Be the Cause

Laziness, or Circumstances?

I had a wonderful time at Change of Heart Weekend, even though I didn’t get to experience all of it. I thought i’d share something interesting that happened to me the day after the event. I was working out at the gym and one of the personal trainers was trying to convince me to sign up for personal training. I was telling him about how i’d love the extra help to meet my goals, but that I would just be unable to sign up for it at this time because I cannot afford it at the moment. He kept telling me that if I really want something I will do anything for it, and that I will find a way to pay for a trainer if I really want to get fit.

Anyway, I didn’t think anything of this conversation until I got home. If the Espinozas (the couple that my partner and I role played as) really wanted to eat a proper meal,wouldn’t Tony just deal with his back pain and get to work? I realized its connection to Saturday’s food bank activity. What I found was that when we are unable to afford anything beyond the basics, or even the basics, others tend to assume that there is something inherently wrong with you, that you may be lazy for example. I jokingly accused Tony, my husband in the activity of being lazy, but it actually became real on Sunday. It is so easy for others to blame you rather than your circumstances. My experience cannot be compared to someone who cannot even afford to buy a meal, but it was a great lesson which I would not have even comprehended if it weren’t for Saturday’s activity.

When looking at poverty, we often fail to look at the system. For example, Maria Espinoza made $1,540 a month with $4 a day for both Tony and her to spend on food. In addition, Tony was suffering from a back injury, so he was unable to work. In spite of all of this, they were rejected for food stamps! Perhaps real solutions can be reached once it is realized that we are trying our best, and that it is not necessarily we as individuals who have failed, but rather, there are external forces sometimes beyond our control that have failed us.

Just something to think about…

I’d like to end this by thanking all of the wonderful speakers and participants who created such life-impacting dialogue.

:) Sana Saeed


  • melisa

    Sana, this is a VERY important thing to think about. I blame that “laziness” mentality on this country’s sacred philosophy of “pulling yourself up by your bootstraps.” It’s the driving force behind capitalism: work hard, and it’ll all pay off. That’s such B-S. While it’s valuable to look at systemic issues, I’m thinking that it may be even more vital to look at cultural issues.

    Seniors and disabled folks are among the most destitute and homeless in this country. Time and time again, I hear of how hard people have worked, believing that they’d be given the public benefits, severely limited as they are, they need to subsist on for the remainder of their lives. Sometimes I struggle to check myself when I hear those stories, thinking: why didn’t you save enough for retirement? why can’t you just sell your house or move into a smaller apartment? don’t you have friends or family who can help you out? are you REALLY unable to get a job? We all work, we all try to make a living for ourselves, why can’t you?

    People are generally quick to see homeless folks as junkies, alcoholics, dumb. And it’s all because we think that there IS something wrong with them.

    In listening to these folks on the streets, we can learn of the circumstances that led them to their “situation.”

    Imagine being in a horrible car accident, depleting your entire savings to pay for medical treatment. Imagine having to take yourself out of the workforce to care for a loved one. Imagine having a mental or cognitive disability which keeps you from functioning in society, without a meaningful support system to get you through. And so on…..

    Is it too much of a stretch to say — as I sometimes feel — that these folks are condemned? What hope exists? Resources, social services fall short. Is it too much of a stretch to say that the social treatment of our homeless brothers and sisters is genocidal? Darwinistic, even?

  • anonymous

    You all are so thoughtful and showing us to remember to come from a compassionate heart, with love and deep respect.

    Thank you.

  • Ret

    This post brings me to one of my strongest desires. I want to know how I can organize a charity event to serve our homeless? I want so badly to bring people with great careers living the high life so to speak into the realm of reality that so many homeless families face. Does anyone have a clue how I can put this event together? I have a heart for the homeless and I don’t know why, but I just want so badly to work of changing thier circumstances for them. Help them have food, education, homes, etc.
    Please any information any one can provide will greatly be appreciated. I know that our purpose for existence exceeds beyond our tunnel vision living.

    I can be contacted at
    I thank you again for any direction you can point me in!

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