I am in London the weekend before I am going to lose my job, which of course I don't know is going to happen yet. But I do for the sake of this exercise because it needs some planning! Come on, keep up..... We are here (yep, me and my wife) as part of a Christmas present that involves indoor sky diving, theater, meals out and the usual London stuff,which of course we wouldn't do if we knew we were both losing our jobs on Wednesday. However, before we started this challenge (which hasn't really started yet) I would have said, in fact did say, that you don't actually need to experience something in order to understand it...but I was wrong, and Iwas right! You see, I am intellectually capable of appreciating (at arms length) how difficult it must be trying to survive on benefits. I can do the maths, I can grasp the difficulty, but I have never actually been required to have the mindset that actually has to face the choices and decisions that are actually at the heart of the difficulties and pressures of living on lor below the poverty line.... I have never actually had to face those scenarios that have the effect of stripping you of some sort of dignity, of robbing you of the most basic aspects of so called 'free choice' of making you feel somehow 'less' than other people..I am realising, as I mentally gear up for the challenge, that I am already thinking differently.
We went for a coffee today at a well known chain and spent, on a small cup of tea, a small cup of coffee and one piece of cake, more than a whole weeks spending money under the benefits regime. We decided not to 'eat out' in London for lunch, but took the 'cheap' option of one M&S salad and a couple of cakes between us....more than another weeks spending money gone. In two hours trying to take the cheaper options we blew 2 weeks money!
There is a considerable distance to go in 'cutural shift' and mindset before I get to grips with this on Wednesday!
It may be, probably is, true that I am capable of grasping how difficult something is for somebody whose circumstances are very different to mine BUT until I honestly try to look out on life as they are forced to look out on life and really consider the choices they have to make,I am realising there is no way I can really begin to understand their issues. And I haven't even started yet.....but even if I didn't start (I will) I already appreciate so much more than I did this time last week. Oh, and one more thing, the fact that you, or I, may have had to live on not much at sometime in our past does not neccesarily guarantee that we will understand the pressures faced by those having to do so now..... Roll on Wednesday, I just hope I can last further than Thursday.....