Sunday, 29 November 2015

Lifestyle choice

The idea that those who don't fit in, who aren't like you and me, don't deserve any sympathy or support because their behaviour is merely "a lifestyle choice" astounds me.

Apparently to some people it's a "lifestyle choice" if you happen to be a refugee, a welfare claimant, a single mother, a homosexual, transgender, or even a rough sleeper. They've supposedly "decided" to be those things and therefore it's up to them to deal with whatever difficulties they face. The rest of us can happily ignore them.

From this weird viewpoint, a refugee isn't simply someone desperate to get away from unbearable violence and oppression. They woke up one day and decided it would be fun to live somewhere else for a change.

A welfare claimant isn't someone who's too disabled or mentally ill or frail (or just on a low wage) to pay their way. They woke up one day and decided to sting the welfare system for everything they could get.

Those fortunate enough to be able to choose what they do in life, and enjoy a comfortable lifestyle, often fondly believe that other people have "chosen" a more difficult or unpleasant life and could easily make things better for themselves if they really wanted.

They don't like to admit that their privileged position is as much a matter of luck as it is of judgment, and that a different twist of fate could have thrown them into the same situations as the people they habitually scoff at.

There aren't many "lifestyle choices" if your country is being bombed month in and month out. The only choice is survival.

17 comments:

Keith Smith said...

I think paragraph four is a bit off. If someone is as you say,"just on a low wage" and claims benefits then obviously they may not able to support their family on the minimum wage. If they have been made redundant and because to their age and possible lack of the necessary skills, cannot find another job, then they have to rely on help from the state.

Nick said...

Keith: Surely in both cases the person has to claim benefits because through no fault of their own they can't pay the bills. If someone is on such a low wage they need to claim benefits on top, then isn't it the employer who's at fault for not paying a living wage?

Wisewebwoman said...

Ah, the Trump Book of Bootstraps.

So very sick of that effer and all he stands for. Psychopath.

XO
WWW

Nick said...

www: Oh, has Donald Trump been referring to "lifestyle choices"? I see Tony Abbott cut off funding for 150 remote indigenous communities on the grounds that they were "a lifestyle choice".

Helen Devries said...

I seem to recall that someone in authority told a parent of a child drawn into promiscuity by the Rotherham abusers that the child had made a lifestyle choice.

Nick said...

Helen: Unbelievable! Are they seriously suggesting the child "chose" to live like that?

Keith Smith said...

You say that the employer is at fault for not paying a living wage. True, but if he pays a decent living wage to all his employees, then he has to raise the price of goods and/or services to cover that, or cut back on the staff, and customers go elsewhere to find cheaper goods/services.

Nick said...

Keith: Well, if all employers were paying the living wage, then prices everywhere would be much the same. But getting all employers to fall in line would require legislation and also a realistic living wage rather than the ridiculous £8.25 that's suggested at present.

Keith Smith said...

The reason I get so uptight about the minimum wage is the fact that my niece (and most of the checkout ladies) earns £6.70 per hour at the local branch of a national supermarket. When she had the temerity to ask for a rise she was threatened with the sack. True!

CheerfulMonk said...

"The rest of us can happily ignore them." That's the purpose of rationalizing, of course. To be able to argue away any responsibility for the problem.

Nick said...

Keith: I'm sure it's commonplace for employers to threaten anyone asking for a rise with the sack. But how can anyone have even a semblance of a decent life on £6.70 an hour? It's barbaric.

Jean: Exactly. Some sort of bogus rationalising means you don't have to actually look at the reality and see other people as vulnerable human beings in need of help.

Bijoux said...

I think there ARE people who do make poor choices, though. If I decide to sleep with every Tom, Dick, and Harry that I meet, don't use birth control, and then have seven kids without a means of support, isn't that a 'lifestyle choice?'

Nick said...

Bijoux: Yes, I agree, some people do make poor choices and they do mess up their lives all by themselves. But at the same time I think there are many more people who find themselves in circumstances they didn't choose (like all the Syrians who're being bombed to hell and back) and there's no way that's a "lifestyle choice".

John Gray said...

We all need to walk a day in these people's shoes

Nick said...

John: Indeed, actually being in those situations, rather than pontificating about them from afar, would be very educational.

tammy j said...

i totally missed this post nick.
and it's such an important one!
we had ice storms for several days and i lost electricity!
just catching up.
john gray said it for me.
i cannot even imagine what it would be like to be a refugee fleeing for my life. losing everything in that life. including my family.
and the fact that the ENTIRE "bible belt" in my country is flat refusing them any help or shelter is abominable. but oh. such good christians they are. they never miss a sunday listening to their favorite evangelists. sorry. i get carried away.
hypocrisy does that to me.

Nick said...

Tammy: I rejected religion at a very early age, one reason being that visible hypocrisy of people going to church in their Sunday best and then the rest of the week treating other people disgracefully.