77. Scrounger (Empathy, Lent 18)

77 scrounger.jpg

As a long-term receiver of benefits, I am deeply grateful. In so many other countries in the world I would simply not have survived. It makes me sad when people judge the sick or the disabled, who so want to be useful, or the unemployed who are desperate for work, thinking that we are taking the easy road. It is anything but. There are people in our society who live ungraciously off the backs of others, and I want to try to understand how they justify that to themselves…..

I claim everything I’m entitled to, of course. Wouldn’t you? Everyone does it, after all. I have an extremely well paid job (actually several, if you count the directorships and the quorums), but the expenses and the second house allowance and even the family credit and so on are there to be used. If I don’t take the money someone else will. It would never be shared out with the poor, it’s too well protected for that, so I may as well take my share and keep my loved ones in the luxury to which they are now accustomed. You wouldn’t believe how much private schools cost these days! So much more than when I was at Eton. One must keep up appearances, that’s the name of the game. If I gave any of it up, or didn’t claim it, it would just sit there in the accounts making interest for someone else. One is charitable of course, but it is really the system that is at fault if any of it is unfair. And for those on the bottom rung, there are plenty of benefits. They can have what they are entitled to, and I will claim my rights too. That’s how it all stays afloat.

Photo (from the cover of The Magic City by E Nesbit) and text © Keren Dibbens-Wyatt 2017

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