Think about the term “disadvantaged”. It's a word that gets thrown around in relation to the poor (“disdvantaged children” “disdvantaged families” etc.), but I don't think people ever stop to consider it's full import. The poor are DISADVANTAGED. They do not have the same material advantages in life that the middle-to-upper classes enjoy. We live in a highly competitive society that has rich rewards for the people who find themselves at the top of the pyramid – but a pyramid, by it's very nature, has very little room at the top. Consequently a tiny percentage of people in the first world hold a huge percentage of its wealth. It's a dark side effect of the capitalist economy. Wealth trickles up, not down, and the further down the “food chain” you are, the less inherent chance for “success” you have.
There is a misconception that all one needs to succeed at life is to work hard. Dead wrong. Hard work certainly equates to material success, but to be capable of that hard work, one needs support. Family units, friendship groups, a quietly supportive atmosphere surrounding a work environment, perhaps spiritual faith: all of these, and more besides, allow someone to be capable of the hard work that results in 'success'. It's all very well for the sons and daughters of middling-to-upper wealth to scoff at dole bludgers when they've never known financial hardship, but the fact remains that we aren't born equal. Some families have to fight harder than others ever will for financial security. Consider also that poverty is often endemic – that is, if mum and dad were dole bludgers, their children likely will be too. The children of working-class and/or poor families statistically have far less of a chance to go on to higher education than, say, the children of doctors. That is a simple life fact – the kids of dole bludgers are at a disadvantage from their moment of conception. Plenty of those children never rise above those circumstances their whole lives, because there is rarely a role model around to encourage them to aim higher. I think it's important not to blame parents here either – they too are products of their upbringing, and most do their best. The truth is, for poor families, life can be a sad, vicious cycle from one generation to the next.
However! While our CHANCES for success in life are badly skewed, we all have the same CAPACITY for success. If you've ever sat in a Centrelink waiting room and cast your eyes around at the people surrounding you, you don't immediately look at a teenage mother and think “she could be a famous author” or look at a tough-looking hoodie-clad teenager and see his potential to be, say, an engineer – but you probably should stop to think. The people in Centrelink waiting rooms have the same amazing potential as everyone else – doctors, professors, businessmen, leaders – but they are people who made bad choices, or grew up in uneducated families, or broken homes, or came from abuse or personal tragedy – and nobody was around to pick them up off the ground. Consider that the first thing an actor/actress does when they receive an Oscar is to thank everyone. Those long “acknowledgements” sections in the front of heavy books aren't for show either. Success, while ultimately personal, is the end result of so much loving support, and none of us can reach our potential without it.
So then. I think it's callous to expect anyone to pick themselves up off the ground by their own efforts alone, but people can and should make the effort to rise above their circumstances. If you're an individual from a comfortable background, have compassion for “the disdvantaged” and the “dole bludgers” and see them as fellow human beings, because they are as worthy as you or I. If you're from a lower background, or from abuse or tragedy... seek out people who can help you grow and achieve. Be careful who you get encouragement from: plenty of people from the same background don't like to see someone decide to rise above mediocrity, because it challenges their own laziness. Teachers, have patience for unruly kids. Be loving and kind, and you never know – you may have offered encouragement to the next Prime Minister, Nobel or Pulitzer Prize winner.
Everyone, above all remember this: each and every living person is capable of amazing things.
The tragedy is that not enough of them do.
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