Friday, April 4, 2014

Under the Gun

When one is poor, homeless, or suffering from a new condition called long term unemployment, you live in a constant state of being "under the gun".  Often times if you are middle class you are under it as well, but its not pointed directly at your head.

Really, when you are at the bottom of the heap, you have to make some choices, its the only way to dig out, but the problem is, can you pull the trigger and make the really painful choices on the big things.  I am not talking about disowning pets, children, or family, those are things that you can either do, or cannot.  Many people cannot, it is immutable, it is not in their personality to do so.  Changing jobs, leaving one with no viable options open, etc are choices that can be made, good or bad.

To change things, choices need to be made, positive changes need positive choices.  Sometimes, it is a a good choice to leave a job when you have no viable options open.  It sounds counter productive, but when you are working a job that does not pay enough to eat, pay the bills, drive back and forth to it, you might be better served unemployed until you find something closer or better.

A thought experiment.  You are homeless, you have no options in your mind, with a "gun to your head" what options do you have?  I bet you can think of a lot of options.  Lots of choices that you can make, but will they benefit you, or will they harm you?  For this to work, you would have to imagine that if you chose wrong the result will be death, your death. It is an extreme way of thinking about options.  It leaves you open to making a lot of bad choices.

The thing is, you tend to start looking at the problem in multiple ways.  Again back to being homeless, you might be more inclined to look at some of your other options, some you might not have seen.  You would be open to doing other things which might help you get out of that situation.  But it might actually allow you to see that you have no real viable choice to make.  If I had children or a wife to support, being unemployed would not be an option, even if I could get assistance.

Really I am not a fan of the whole gun to the head scenario, because really we all have one pointed at our heads, it is all perspective if you think about it.  Certainly it always helps to be able to assess your situation and make the correct choices, but I will always maintain that based on your personality, your views of the world around you, you might not have a choice to make.  You might find that you are in a no-win situation, but I also feel that many times it is a creation of our making.  There is almost always an out, somewhere, even if you are not willing to make an extremely painful decision. 

But I will also point out that choices, good or bad, will also limit further choices.  Sure, you can choose to stay at a bad job, but low pay, newly acquired bills, and other life events outside of your control can limit what you do.  Every day at that type of job, your options narrow, until one day you wake up, and you have one really bad choice, stay or leave.  Should I stay or should I go, and that is the choice that really messes you up.  At that point you should possibly stay, until you work out another option, but with the current employment trends, that might take a while.  Before you know it you are hung.

I know, many of you are saying you are never hung, you just aren't willing to make the choice, but keep this in mind.  Any choice I make affects those around me.  If I chose to take a job in Siberia, that would me that those closest to me would be affected by that choice.  I would have to either leave my parents behind, offering the support I could from the other side of the world, or I could take them with me, which would mean problems for them.  Sure, if I left them here, I would be able to offer them financial support, but I would not be able to protect them if needed.  If I took them with me, they would have a hard time adapting to the climate and culture.  That is not a viable option.  Now that is an extreme, but it is an option.

That is what it boils down to when people say, you should relocate.  The choice is the same no matter where I choose to go.  Leave them here, or take them with me.  Of course, I would opt to take them, I would need their assistance when I started out.  Even then, unless you have something lined out in terms of work, you won't go far.  Sorry, the notion of catching the first Grey Hound Bus to a city, and boom you have a job, a place to land, and money in the bank is not going to happen for the majority.  It would mean spending what little you have to get where you are going, finding a place (likely a shelter), then finding a job, then a permanent home and transportation to the job.