North Texas Daily

Supposed feel-good stories of harsh resilience expose cracks in the system

Supposed feel-good stories of harsh resilience expose cracks in the system

Supposed feel-good stories of harsh resilience expose cracks in the system
March 12
12:00 2021

In the current climate, it is tempting to take every intimation of good news at face value. Stories about people doing right by one another are made no less appealing by a country divided both physically and politically.  Unfortunately, some feel-good stories have their basis in the very problems they are meant to distract us from.

In 2018, Birmingham resident Walter Carr’s car broke down on his first day working at a moving company, a job he was so desperate to keep, he walked a total of twenty miles to get there on time. After the homeowner and Carr’s supervisor caught wind of this, they banded together to start a GoFundMe on Carr’s behalf, and eventually presented him with a 2014 Ford Escape. Happy ending, right?

Maybe for Carr, but the simple fact of the matter is that he should not have had to go to such lengths to be able to pay for rent, food and other basic necessities. This story is one of many that sets a dangerous precedent through media agenda setting.

The way this story was framed echoes the tired, elitist and arguably racist sentiment that if a person just works hard enough, they will undoubtedly achieve success, and subsequently, that poor people who don’t manage to escape the trappings of poverty have no one to blame but themselves. Ironically, these stories that put such heavy emphasis on the virtue of charity seem to be set on discouraging their readers from partaking in it.

“Good Morning America” is particularly shameless in their promotion of these so-called feel-good stories, and even had the audacity to declare people donating their vacation hours to pregnant coworkers “trendy,” as though the U.S. isn’t the only “developed” country to not require that companies offer maternity leave. A teacher asking his coworkers to donate their sick days so he could get chemotherapy was reported on with similar short-sightedness.

I think that these displays of selflessness are commendable, I just also think they should be wholly unnecessary and not be portrayed as such by any and all self-respecting journalists. Why are we having to band together like the sole survivors of a zombie apocalypse just to make rent in this country, and why is that kind of recourse solidarity being normalized? Our government is failing us on every level, and feeding us a sanitized version of our own suffering to abdicate responsibility.

The idea that hard work is always karmically rewarded seems idealistic in nature, but is in fact deeply cynical, as it is upheld in order to cover for the fact that our system is not built to do the rewarding. The American Dream is not intrinsically American, because the only people in this country who actually get to live it are the lucky ones, and if we by some chance do manage to make our own way in the world, the idea that we should have to lets our broken government take all the credit instead.

Featured Illustration by Pooja Patel

About Author

Rachel Card

Rachel Card

Rachel Card is a junior majoring in public relations and minoring in sociology. She was born in Austin, Texas, and is currently quarantining there with her family and three dogs.

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