Dec
05
2011

Trolling on Poverty

The Game of Life

This is a follow up on a previous post, Jeub Trolls and Haterz.

One of the most trolled articles concerned one that Wendy and I spent a good deal of time writing. “What’s So Bad About Poverty?” made an attempt to show that we Americans have a hyped-up delusion of poverty. (Good grief, a family my size can qualify for food stamps and still clear nearly $50k per year!) The article’s thesis: poverty is not inherently bad, that there are silver linings in every financial depression.

We thought the post was well-balanced and reflective of the blessings of life, no matter what your financial position. From the comments of some, you’d think we condemned hungry people to a life of starvation. Here’s a post from Flynn, one of our most loyal trolls, typos and grammatical errors intact…

What an ignorant, arrogant, hurtful post. “Poverty: What’s So Bad About It?” I’ll tell you… Homelessness. Starvation. No clean drinking water. No sanitation. Hopelessness. That’s what’s so bad about it. Millions of people in this world (not to mention those in this country) live in true, abject poverty. You live in a house, support and feeed 16 children, travel all over the country, and your biggest problems are not being able to buy a bus & having to work out of your home.

This was just one of many that came in. Their posts — one after another, 176 at last count, just from Part I — took what we said out of context, placed it in their own interpretation of poverty, and ceremoniously tore it to shreds. At least attempted to. I responded to one troll with this:

A basic debate strategy is redefining the terms. Our proposition is: “Poverty is not inherently bad,” and we believe it is a freeing message that gives hope to those who are struggling financially. Insisting that it is bad (“really, really bad”) is checking the poor into a box of no hope.

Commenters … have attempted to redefine poverty in terms of the most hideous forms of despair, as if that’s what we were saying in the first place. This is a “Straw Man Fallacy,” an attempt to build up an argument that isn’t real because it would be easy to knock down.

What did I learn from my troll friends? That looking down on poverty is much worse than understanding poverty. I know a lot of impoverished people, none of whom are as destitute as Flynn described. Flynn, like many of the trolls on this post, resorted to examples from India and Africa in an attempt to give their straw men validity, as if that bared any resemblance at all to our original post.

And this is what a certain mindset toward poverty does. The comments from the trolls (in Part I and Part II) went to great lengths to push poor people down. Put ’em in their place. How dare poor people think highly of their situation. Being poor, in their eyes, is the ultimate damnation, and how dare the Jeubs think differently.

Our message is one of hope. We’re speaking into the millions of struggling families, our attempt to encourage them and give them reason to be thankful for their children, for their relationship with God, and for the blessings that are there in front of them. Oh my, you have no idea how deadly such talk is to those who hate God. To them, in a twisted sort of way, their worldview requires poverty to be inherently bad because, if it could be good, it may explain why God tolerates it so.

Are the poor hopeless?

Poverty as hopeless: Such a view is pathetic, and hardly helpful to those “suffering” from it. Just the mere fact that people would be upset with us (who live dangerously close to the poverty line, for Pete’s sake!) for attempting to shine light in darkness is insulting. If anything, this is “ignorant, arrogant and hurtful.”

We think differently. God’s blessings can pour over the poor, just as they pour over the wealthy. Our 20 years of marriage has been a roller coaster of financial stress and blessing, but never of immense wealth, so we think we have a lot to say about it. Read it, friends, and be encouraged. Great joy, in Christ, awaits families who embrace their walk with God. How much money you have is no barrier to it.

Come to think of it, finding the blessings among the rich may be more difficult than those in poverty. Now that’s something to ponder.

About Chris Jeub

Chris is the father of 16 children, busily running the family businesses and learning the depths of love along the way.

  • Gar

    Do you really think all the poor are hopeless? Do you really think anyone said they should be? Or wants them to be? Nonsense.

    I have been poor and it was terrible. However, I always had hope, and so do most people I know, rich or poor. Why else would they get out of bed?I had plenty of hope, but I still wouldn’t want to be poor. And I still don’t think poverty is good.  If you enjoy poverty, Mr. Jeub, that is fine for you, but I’d just as soon opt out. Poverty is terrible, but it can certainly be full of hope (the two are not mutually exclusive, and I don’t think anyone said they were).

    • http://www.jeubfamily.com Chris Jeub

      Did you read this article? Or did you just click in and write a comment? I think we agree with each other, but you’re responding as if we don’t.

      • Gar

        You wrote:

        “poverty is not inherently bad, that there are silver linings in every financial depression.”

        We certainly disagree! I do think poverty is bad, and want no part of it.

  • T. Gates

    I dare say that some of your trolls don’t know Jesus, because if they did, they would understand what you’re talking about when you say that it is possible to be poor AND happy!   Better to be poor and have Jesus than to be rich without Him!

    • http://www.jeubfamily.com Chris Jeub

      Too true. Wait till you read the trolling article queued up for later this week…specifically dealing with religion.

  • Sheri Hepworth

    I marvel that my family lives in ‘poverty’ according to US standards! Paul said he knew how to abound and be abased. My hubby jokes that some of God’s children don’t know how to abound so God keeps them (us) abased so we behave ourselves. I admire how you and your wife manage your income and the generous sized family God blessed you with.

  • http://creatingtreasures.blogspot.com Tereza

    I saw your new video on YouTube. Way to go on Re-org your family and business! I pray you are successful and receive many invites. :) God bless,
    tereza

    • http://www.jeubfamily.com Chris Jeub

      Yeah, we just filmed it yesterday. It was fun! We hope we can speak at some events next year.

  • ninabi

    For the sake of discussion,  what defines “poverty” to you?
    It sounds like there are many different kinds- the relative poverty in the U.S. (most people who are poor have running water and sanitation) or the extreme poverty seen in Third World countries (no clean water,  malnutrition,  etc).   There is poverty by choice, as well, such as those who take a vow of poverty with religious orders, a form that frees a person from possessions as they focus on their spiritual work.

    I work a fair amount with homeless people- truly poor- please know, that while we don’t like poverty for anyone, we sure don’t disrespect anybody.   In the end, we can’t take our stuff with us so sans stuff, we are all just people.

    • http://www.jeubfamily.com Chris Jeub

      As I defined it from the beginning of our post (linked to in this article), I defined it the same as the government’s definition of “poverty.” The trolls, however, insisted on defining it much differently in an attempt to invalidate Wendy and my position. I was not originally speaking to homeless or the destitute, but to struggling families in tough times.

  • http://profiles.google.com/anij34 Jolene O’Dell

    I applaud your original article and felt it was well thought out and was very thought provoking.  I never saw it as argument provoking.  Yet, as you have mentioned, the trolls just pick at things not relating the heart of the article.  What life would they lead if they had no online outlet for their trolling.  Hmmm….the newspapers would receive an awful lot of letters to the editor!  Aside for my jesting, I still stand by the heart of your original article and I pray that others stop reading between the lines. 

  • Tiara

    well-said.God blesses us in many ways,not just financially.Good health,good relationships,children,long life,being able to work from home,intelligence,etc.

  • Sheila

    Hi Chris,
                     I think some people are so wrapped up with materialism and monetary wealth that they cannot possibly understand where you are coming from.
                     My husband has just lost his job because of the poor state of the economy yet we do not consider ourselves to be poor. We have a home, each other, two healthy sons and an eternity to spend with Jesus. We hve always lived on one income as we agreed that I would stay home with the children so we have never had a huge amount of spare money. I feel incredibly rich in memories from years spent with my family which can never be taken away no matter what financial situation arises.
                    My husband has volunteered to help with a winter shelter for the homeless while he looks for another paid job.
                           Poverty is not necessarily bad, it can often  just be a wrong response to it that is the problem.
                                                    Sheila (UK)

  • Kristen

    Chris,

                       I very much enjoy reading your (and Wendy’s) posts because they are so well thought out and looked at from many perspectives.  I appreciate the time and effort put into sharing your views on these things.  It is always refreshing to read someone saying what is truth rather than what is politically correct.  Keep it up!

  • Delilah

    I grew up VERY poor. We lived in the projects and never had Christmas or birthday presents. Our clothes and shoes were bought second hand, if not just given to us by members of our church. I NEVER felt as though something was wrong with our situation. God promises food in our bellies n clothes on our backs, not new cars and fancy T.V.s. Our poverty brought us together through love for eachother and Christ. You may want no part of it Gar, but I wouldnt have changed a thing.

    • Peggy

      Delilah, I am so glad society did not hamper your idea of what a good life is! Glad to hear God was in your heart and made those times good for you!

  • Peggy

    The responses to this are interesting. People cannot look beyond the monetary part of poverty. Just because you have no money does not mean you don’t have your health, or your family, or hope and happiness. Everyone needs more money, no matter what your income is. For most it’s never enough. It’s pretty obvious that less money means more stress, right? Not necessarily. Look at some of the rich people out there, living beyond their means, buying the fanciest things they can because they have money. I think in some cases they are impoverished as well, maybe not monetarily, but in every other aspect of life that is so much more important than money.

    When my husband was in his teens, his family was homeless. They were living in their car.  They would sometimes stay at the homeless shelter, or in hotel rooms paid for by the church, but ultimately, they were impoverished. They may have been broke, but they were together as a family and they were healthy. He met a lot of other homeless people and learned a lot about what’s really important in life. You should see him now. He works so hard for our family and we have our own modest home and two kids and we are happy. He could have given up hope all those years ago, he could have accepted that was his fate and that he would probably be impoverished his whole life, but he didn’t. We are not wealthy by all means, and if we both made less money we would find a way to manage and we would still be happy. It’s all about one’s perspective and creativity.

    Poverty, as defined by the government, is really based on how you live. Three people making the same wages living in the same area could have three completely different lifestyles. It’s all about how creative you are with your money. Wants vs. needs. Living well below your means. That’s what it all comes down to. Poverty does not mean unhappy. Poverty means lacking money. Unfortunately, society makes us believe that if someone is living below the poverty level, they must have a horrible life. Just another one of those “social norms” that creates stereotypes, biased judgements, and hatred.

    I love reading your posts. I respect that you may have different opinions than me about some things. I am just mature enough that if I disagree, I either keep my comment to myself, or respectfully reply with my opinion. I am decent enough that I do not tell you your opinion is wrong, or bash you for what you believe. That is your opinion, your choice, your life. It doesn’t harm me that you believe different than me, so why should I behave as though it does? I wish trolls would learn a few more manners and remember the golden rule: If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all!

    • Tammie E.

      I agree with Peggy and could not say it better myself !

  • http://theyoungpages.com/jodis_blog Jodi

    Hi Chris,

    First of all, I want to tell you and Wendy how much I love your blog!  My husband and I have five-going-on-six kids and resonate with the vast majority of what you write about here.  We thank God for your family and your message of love.

    I wholeheartedly agree with the main points you were making in your post on poverty.  We, too, have seen God stretch us and teach us to trust in His provision through difficult financial times.

    I think that what is potentially offensive about your post, though, and even its title, is the very suggestion that you have any experience of true poverty.  I know the US government defines it that way, and you were careful to say that that was the definition you were using for the purpose of your article.  But it might have helped to acknowledge that there are indeed people around the world suffering from *real* poverty, the kind people die from, and that that’s not what you are asking “What’s So Bad About…”

    I think poverty, *true* poverty, is very bad, just as cancer and infant death and slavery are bad, but I don’t think any of those things need bring about hopelessness, because God is sovereign in all of them.  God can use even the most terrible circumstances in our lives to bring about His good purposes – look at the story of Joseph! – but I don’t think that means that the circumstances themselves are good.  I think that’s an important distinction to make in this case.   

    Hope I haven’t offended.  I truly do think you guys are great, I just see this issue from a slightly different point of view.  God bless!

  • Tammie E.

    I think it is wonderfully marvelous to see everything from different perspectives. Life is always about perspective. No one is the same, perfect or right .. everyone has a way of sharing thier personal stories and connecting with others or not. I dont believe “poverty”, like everything else doesn’t have things you can’t learn from it .. it is all based on perspective. :)

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1160853318 Tammie Page Ewert

    pardon me. I am trying to figure out how to connect this to facebook, lol

  • Delilah

    This is for everyone who’s saying the Jeubs have no right to speak about something they have never experienced and the ppl claiming parents to be terrible for nringing kids into poverty: Let me tell u my family history of poverty. My parents got married young and, 10 years into their marriage after being told she could not conceive, got pregnant. After.5 kids, everything seemed to be fine. Until my father.snapped, and shook my youngest sister to death at 4 months old. He was sentenced to 18 years in prison. obviously this left my mother to raise us by herself, with some fairly big emotional problems. once again things seemed to be getting better until the flood of 93 washed away are home. we were forced to move in with my grandmother in texas, until she decided she didn’t want us there anymore. We moved into a shelter until she found a job working nights (she wanted to home with us during the day). Again things got better, until she was hit be a semi while walking to work. The entire left half of her body had to be rebuilt with steele rods. Obviously she couldnt wrk. My mother raised 4 children on her $600/month dissability check and $300 in foodstamps. What should she have done? Given us away? Poverty is not always preventable or.due to poor choices. My mother never lost her faith ( I often liken her to Jobe), and never allowed us to lose ours either. The Jeubs may have never had hardships like these, but they understand them better than most of u.

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  • Erika Shupe

    LOL – I love this.  I’m learning so much about how to handle trolls!  =D  I’ve done a lot of this same reasoning with “ours”, but it’s so time consuming, and emotionally draining, and feels fruitless.  But it probably isn’t, causing someone to have to think through their words and reasoning more.  We “discuss” and reason to a point, but then when others are getting upset, too, we just take the “troll” out after warnings to tame their tongue.  What a great, creative post!  *cheer!*

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