Thursday, January 28, 2010

#31 The "Poor Chip"

January 28th, 2010

The “Poor Chip”

Ok, I can already tell just by writing this that some of you will get it and others will miss the mark wildly and crucify me as a hater of all poor people and a spoiled brat. For those of you who don’t know me, yes I am spoiled but no I am not a brat. Those of you who do know me would probably disagree. But, it’s my blog and no one is forced to read or endure my opinions any longer than they so choose to. So with that out of the way, let me clarify. I don’t hate all poor people. In fact, I really only despise a small percentage, who through hard work and graft have long since been absent from that socio-economic bracket.

I am talking about those with the “poor chip.” I have come across people, and in particular worked with people, whose belief is that unless others grew up similar to them, ie poor and usually from the North of England or in an old industrial city, then their successes are valued at less than their own. So even though they are now successful and have achieved such success through their own hard work and graft, they will never be as great as their potential. This is mainly due to the boulder sized rock that sits squarely on their shoulder, essentially holding them back. I am using in this article the “poor chip”, but it is easily substituted for any other chip on one’s shoulder.

So why choose this topic for this week? Especially since in my experience only about 2% of the people that I know or meet or have worked with possess such a chip, thus making them a very small group in the overall population of people who grew up less than privileged. It’s probably because having grown up quite privileged; I am always fighting against the poor chip. Working in the City, you come across a lot of grafters. People who will find their way and they success through a mixture of hard work, graft, street smarts and savvy. I really admire these people. It’s so very American. In the USA we celebrate the success of those who come from backgrounds of adversity, those who reach the top regardless of their situations. What many people fail to understand is that adversity and difficult situations are not exclusive to those who grew up outside of the country club. I am by no means trying to gain any sympathy here, but believe me, I know a lot of people who grew up with seemingly everything...aside from being given any guidance, love, support, a work ethic or any real values. That is no small mountain to climb either if that person ever wants to experience success of their own.

Should we value and place a higher regard on Oprah’s success rather than Obama’s? I mean Obama may have grown up without a father, but Punaho is not exactly a school for the underprivileged. Or do we undervalue Bill Gates’ success due to the fact that he grew up with relative comfort and had access to the expensive computer equipment that his inner city peers certainly did not have. No, we don’t do this. I believe in taking people for what they are now and what they have achieved. Yes where they come from is very important and does factor in to a lot of things, but it’s far from being the only thing. The “poor chip” or reversely the “rich chip”, which certainly exists as well, is just a form of ignorance. If you didn’t grow up poor, rich, middle class, lower middle class, whatever then don’t assume you know how anyone else grew up or got to where they are. Take the chip off the shoulder and not only will your posture improve, but that bitter taste in the back of your mouth will miraculously disappear.

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