OK. I try REALLY hard not to get into politics on my blog.
I mean, I will preach with the best of them that we all need to be educated about the candidates and get out the vote. It’s not just your right as an American, it’s your duty.
But, I figure you have no burning urge to hear which candidate I support or why.
I’ll tell you this much, so you know where I’m coming from…
I think capitalism is a beautiful thing, when allowed to work without obstruction. I think personal liberty is of awesome value. I think that politicians should be moral, AND they should allow others to work out their own morality (within reasonable bounds). I think that “the system” is broken in 1,000 different ways and needs to be completely over-hauled. I think the constitution is an amazing document that should be followed much more closely than it is.
But this is REALLY bothering me.
I keep seeing this image on Facebook:
I’ve seen it over and over and over again.
I also get this one every few days:
Each time, I get more and more angry.
It’s good to control your anger, but sometimes I think it’s good and right to be mad.
I am furious.
Since I can’t realistically, post a 1,000 word vent on Facebook, I’m going to do it here. Feel free to argue with my reasoning, if you must. I am all for the exchange of worthy ideas, but hear me out first, please.
I worked for 2 years in a local food pantry. I served hundreds of families. Nearly all of them were on food stamps.
Some of them had iPhones, manicures, pedicures, new cars and other lovely things, as referenced above.
Before you put on your fancy black judge’s robe… allow me to introduce a few of the folks I met over the years.
Mrs. X was in her late 20’s. She drove a gorgeous, late-model truck & ALWAYS had her hair and nails done. She had an iPhone. She had 2 small children at home. She explained to me, once, that her husband of 5 years had left her for parts unknown. She’d not seen or heard from him, or had a single penny of child support since. She worked a full-time and a part-time job, trying to make ends meet. They were both far below her education level, but it was the only work she could get. She had no family to help her so a massive portion of her income went to pay for 60+ hours of child care each week. She couldn’t afford a landline or internet at home (in her 1 bedroom apartment where she slept on the sofa each night) so she invested in a smart phone in order that she could combine those two services for less cost. It’s nearly impossible to apply for jobs without a phone and internet. She was upside down on her vehicle loan (which she’d taken out when she was still married), so was stuck with it. A neighbor, who worked in a local salon, kept her hair and nails done as a favor, to help her look the part of a professional when she went on interviews. She cried in my office one day, because someone at the store had made a remark about her pretty nails and her food stamps.
If you could have been the person making those remarks, what would you suggest she do differently?
Then there was Mr. Y. He screwed up. He made very poor choices and ended up in prison. While in jail, he got clean and sober and worked hard on his education. When he got out, everyone in this tiny town knew what he had done. The only work he could get was as a dishwasher, making minimum wage. At less than $8 per hour, his take home pay was about $1,000 a month. Could you live on that? Yes, he made his bed… but haven’t we all? It’s easy to understand why criminals turn back to their crime, when you hear things like this. Crime is the only way to make a decent living for them! And then… to have to be told, after spending a day in a 100+ degree room scraping other people’s food waste into the trash, that you didn’t work for your food stamps?
How much harder should Mr. Y work? Or do you think he should starve to death on the streets because of the foolish things he did as a young man?
How about Mrs. Z? She was married with 7 kids. Her husband had a great job in a factory. They were doing ok until he was in a motorcycle accident and broke his back. Savings and social security carried them for a while. Having gotten married right out of school, she had no higher education and no work experience. Child care cost for 7 children, not to mention care for her husband, made working outside of the home out of the question.
Would you like to take away her food stamps?
I saw people struggling to educate themselves, overcoming addictions, and working at every job they could get. There were young mothers who’d been abandoned by their men and at least 2 young men (only just barely 18) who’d been abandoned by their mothers. There were families that were devestated by the closing of nearly every major factory within driving distance of us. There were folks with college degrees working part time at fast food restaurants because that’s the only work there was to be had. There were people who struggled through high school who couldn’t even get work at McDonald’s because, after all, why would they hire a dyslexic 19 year old with no work experience when they can hire a college graduate with management training?
Some of those people owned nice things… maybe they got a really fancy phone FOR FREE with a contract. Maybe, like Mrs. X, they were stuck with something that they really could afford at the time they got it. Maybe they had traded services or goods with someone.
These people were NOT the lazy moochers you (I’m speaking to the people who post things like those above) seem to think they are.
What a catch 22!
If they own nice things, regardless of how they got them, and take care to look nice, they get judged as playing the system.
If they live in a rusty car and wear grubby clothes, they get judged as disgusting and dirty.
What in the world are these people supposed to do?!
Are there people who play the system to get something for nothing?
I can think of 3 that I worked with at the food pantry.
That’s 3 people out of HUNDREDS.
It was, BY FAR, the exception and not the rule.
Further, only a handful of the pantry’s clients kept returning for any significant length of time. Most of them just needed a helping hand during, what was often, the very worst part of their lives.
Before you climb up on your high horse and criticize someone for collecting “welfare,” maybe you should take a moment to ask yourself if you know the whole situation.
Maybe that woman in her pajamas just worked a 14 hour shift in a crappy menial-labor job and came home to get 2 hours of sleep before she was woken by her hungry children telling her there was no milk in the house and THAT’S why she’s at Wal-Mart in her pajamas.
But the point is, you don’t know.
If you have been able to “pull yourself up by your bootstraps” and you have never needed to ask anyone for help… well…. you are truly extraordinary. Good for you! Well done! You should write a book because we could all learn from you. But I’d be willing to bet that there is not a single person out there who has never needed some form of assistance. Just because your assistance came from a friend, business assosciate, relative, etc, instead of from the government doesn’t make you more self-sufficient. It makes you richly blessed.
Leave the judging to God. He’s more informed than you are.
I feel like I should apologize for ranting. But the truth is, I’m just not sorry. Some things need to be said. And, darn it, I am angry.
Judging others makes us blind, whereas love is illuminating. By judging others we blind ourselves to our own evil and to the grace which others are just as entitled to as we are.”
― Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship