Sunday, 8 September 2013

Living in a deprived part of town - what it can teach me

Photo by Jessica Flavin
I'll be honest here. I am still pissed off with the Universe for having to move house whilst I was on benefits. I would have moved anyway once the contract on my last house expired - it was a nice house in a lovely location, but there were issues with the landlord and neighbours. But, obviously, it is harder to find somewhere to live when you're not on a regular wage. So I ended up in one of the most run down, deprived areas of Leeds. The view out of my window really is depressing - although the actual bedsit I have is okay really. The only slightly redeeming feature of the area is a park, which is okay at best.

Having lived in such a nice place previously, I am gutted that I ended up here. I never thought I would live in a worse location than where I lived in 2011, before I moved to Otley. But I do now - it's unquestionably the worst area I've lived. And having lived in such a nice place as Otley, which was close to the beautiful Yorkshire Dales which I really miss, has probably made it a bit harder.

And the people here have pushed my judgement buttons quite hard. Especially the next door neighbour who shouts constantly and particularly at her children. My mother certainly never spoke to me like that, even when my behaviour was unacceptable. I do worry about those kids. Just hearing her voice really gets under my skin. And there are probably a lot of people here who are long term unemployed, the 'rougher' types shall we say. I kind of feel like the odd one out because I don't have a tattoo on my body. I know there are some lovely people including some friends of mine who have tattoos and I don't wish to offend .. but there's little doubt that tattoos are a staple part of 'chav' culture, and it's part of the reason why I am not keen on them.

Especially that I am now back in work, I am getting thoughts along the line of:
- I shouldn't be here
- I am of a better class than these people
- Living here is just depressing
- What did I do to deserve this

And, to be honest, if it is true that everything happens for a reason, then I don't totally understand why all this happened. Thing is, I am never likely to be mates with most of the people who live around here, so getting to understand this kind of culture would not be easy. I just want to get the hell out of here as soon as I can, as the energy around here is bad and brings me down a little bit. The 'class' thing is a biggie. People generally don't like living near or associating with people that are in a supposedly 'lower class' than them.

Which brings me to another point. Sometimes I hear it said, something along the lines of:
'My perception of you is a reflection of me'
'Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves'

Is our opinion of others a reflection of ourselves?
Photo by Arttu Manninen
And to be honest, sometimes I find it hard to swallow. Especially in extreme cases such as murderers and paedophiles. Surely our hatred of these people is justified, no? And to a lesser extent, I find this theory difficult when relating to people that are totally different from me. Maybe it doesn't actually relate to the other person, and it doesn't mean that you would do the same things that you would in another person - perhaps it's an opportunity to become aware of the hatred within you and bring it to the light - an opportunity to be aware of your own nature, without judgement.

So, on judgement - well I guess, living here has made me a bit more aware of how I judge people. Even when I hear people say things along the lines of 'that's all they know' - I still think 'Well I have managed to get through some shit and so have other people I know, these people should be able to change'. And also, just writing this blog post has made me realise that I put people in different 'classes' of society. At the end of the day, we are all one.

Yes, it would be nice if we could all live in peace and harmony, and thrive as a society and love each other. We are a long way off from that. The word 'tolerance' has just entered my mind - it can be difficult, sometimes, to understand the ways of other people - but different people have grown up under different circumstances. We really don't know why people do the things they do. I think perhaps that the important lesson for me to learn is to have a bit more tolerance. Especially as the people I'm judging are probably fairly well judged by much of society anyway, as resentment towards the unemployed is unfortunately quite high nowadays.

I'm not going to get all airy-fairy and try and love the place I live. It is a truly ugly part of town, and it would be impossible to pretend it is pretty. I cannot wait to leave and I truly hope that I will never again live in a place like this. But whilst I am here (until December, possibly a bit earlier) maybe it's time to be open minded and ask what lessons this situation has to teach me.

Big love to all my readers

1 comment:

  1. Wow, Andy, I think you're right. You answered your own post. I've never seen you so judgemental before....One question I have to ask (having grown up on a council estate.) Have you taken the time to talk to the people with the tattoos and living in the area you're in? Maybe that's what you're lesson is...sometime in the future maybe you will have to talk to these people. Its fantastic that you are so aware. I'm also very glad that you've got a roof over your head ;) x


A few things this week has taught me

Well well. This one really has been one of the toughest weeks in a good while. It's pretty rare for me to get too depressed these days, ...