Certain words have different meanings for people who have resources and those who don’t. One of the words is the word “money.” Those of us with resources use “money” to mean “security”—home, food, education, medical plan, and retirement. People without resources use “money” to mean “having the good life.” This explains why a family might have a big screen television. When children are told to get off the bus, go in the house, lock the door, and not come out until Mom gets home from work, what else can the kids do? Or how will the mother get some relief from the stresses of just barely getting by without a diversion such as the television? Families living in poverty may not expect much good to happen in the future but they certainly can enjoy the present.
Another word is the word “time”. When people are asked how long they kept their last job, they may respond, “A long time.” Follow up questions may reveal that keeping a job long term meant keeping the job for two months. Those of us with resources do not think two months is a long time at all. Unless we are in crisis, those of us who have resources cannot understand how a week can feel like a year.
Understanding how words can be the same and yet have different meanings helps us refrain from jumping to judgment about how people are handling their money and their time. We can think about how others see things— not good or bad, just different.