I’m Stupid

In 2000, an important study was conducted which queried laid-off rural Alabama textile workers on the effects of the Job Training Partnership Act. Among the many elements brought to light during the research, one specific trend became startlingly clear: all of the respondents had developed the belief that they were incapable of doing better.

This low self esteem even impacted how the workers viewed what they deserved when it came to not only the quality of the food served at the company cafeteria, but also the paper goods found in the restrooms. A small study was made where public restrooms in one of the study’s textile factory was left as it always was with cheap commercial products, while at another factory the restrooms and all janitorial supplies which were bought at a large online site were upgraded to green friendly products. The paper products were free of inks, dyes and fragrances and they all met the Green Seal environmental standard for bleaching, de-inking and packaging. The regular janitorial supplies were switched to cleaning products whose cleaning powers were derived from the most effective natural sources, such as essential lemon oils, coconut-based cleaning agent, corn-based alcohol and earth-based materials. There was a statistical jump (positive) in how the workers felt the second “company” treated them and another surprising result, was actual lower janitorial costs! Who knew that such a simple change in the way a company orders even its janitorial products can impact its workers.

Changing life circumstances can have a devastating impact on self esteem when bad luck strikes. Imagine what happens to a person who suspects that they may have contracted a sexually transmitted disease. Just the uncertainty can become an obsession, especially because sexual matters are often taboo within our culture. Students are especially at risk especially if they are aware that they are not using protection and/or have multiple partners. And admitting that one might have an std is all by itself an overwhelming event – so overwhelming that many young people never seek to check for stds, when doing so may (1) remove the uncertainty, and (2) provide peace of mind if the test is negative. The internet has made it possible to purchase an initial test that can be conducted privately in your home, eliminating the need to go public as the first step. The success of these tests is due to the fact that it’s often too embarrassing to even discuss with friends, no less a clinic of doctor. But home std tests are not foolproof, and if the test comes up positive, one should seek professional help asap. This is one case where the health of the individual is directly connected to the well being of the community and it is critical to make everyone aware of this fact.

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