Hand Over the Sandwich

Of course multi-billion dollar business owners are trying to show us the real pain behind Obamacare.  Firing employees and finding new ways to make them suffer simply because we, as a nation, supported the right of every individual to have access to affordable health care is just one of several methods the 1% is using to try and punish us for voting for Obama.  The truth is, however, that this just helps prove our point.  We aren’t a socialist country, we do not want communism in the United States of America.  But when you leave the protection, support and assistance of the young, the poor, the elderly and the disabled to capitalists the way conservatives want we are left with a greedy, selfish, mega rich class, a super poor and/or otherwise incapable of helping themselves class and then the true decision makers trapped in the middle.

Let’s not be fooled.   Not all wealthy people are shrewd and calculating.  Billionaires who dedicate so much of their personal wealth in philanthropic endeavors such as “Giving While Living” are examples of our fellow human beings who recognize the need and amazing reward in helping the less fortunate without the government demanding it.  This is how a perfect society would work.  Everyone does what they are capable of, making a success in all aspects of life, earning a lot of money so that they can realize their dreams and then, without much room for contemplation, helping the people who, for whatever reason, haven’t for themselves been able to find the same motivation, the same talents, the same success.

It doesn’t really matter, to a person with a heart, if the reason why someone needs help is because they are physically, mentally or emotionally handicapped.  It doesn’t change anything when they are faced with a person who needs some kindness and charity because their house blew away in a tornado or because they fell in with the wrong crowd and are now a seemingly hopeless drug addict.  Yes, of course there is room to assign certain levels of responsibility and to take note to the consequences of others actions as well as our own.  But when a starving person comes up to you, if you first find yourself asking why they are hungry and not simply offering them food there is more wrong with you then there is wrong with the needy hand that reaches out in good faith before you.

We need to figure out why so many people have given up.  We need to know why so we can attempt to solve the problem.  If you are homeless because you can’t find work, it’s not enough to just find you a job.  What if you’ve had jobs and you keep getting fired?  What if you don’t know how to read?  What if you have no clean clothes to wear to an interview?  What if you don’t speak English?  What if you have a criminal record?  What if you have a mental illness?  What if you lack formal education?  What if you really are lazy and are used to people always bailing you out?

All of these “what ifs” matter.  They matter because we can’t just give you a sandwich and then leave you to your own devices.  Your own devices got you to this point.  We need to care about you, all of you in the most complete and realistic sense of the word.

First, hand over the sandwich.  You’re not a god and you own no one.  It doesn’t matter how much more money you make or how much less help you ask for.  You are no better than this person before you.  But what you can do, right after extending your hand in friendship, offering some food in charity and graciously accepting thanks for your good deed is find out just what keeps this person, this unique individual, from being able to do enough for his or herself so that they don’t need your help in the near future.

Welfare is a messed up service.  It’s turned into a game that people figure out how to beat.  But don’t ever believe for one minute that someone takes $200 worth of food stamps and less than $200 a month in actual money and feels empowered or successful.  If you are faced with someone, anyone, who would rather collect that little amount of money, while jumping through the hoops their local agency places before them instead of having a job then you are dealing with someone who suffers from something.  It may be an actual illness that a doctor has diagnosed and requests that this person does not enter the work force, it may be because they try and are actually unable to find a job or there is some other problem standing in the way.  It’s not just laziness, while some times I’m sure that plays a part.  But maybe, mixed in with a sense of entitlement there is a person who doesn’t believe he or she would be able to sustain an income.

I promise you, if you could spend 10 minutes reaching out to this person and setting them on a path that would lead to their desire, motivation and new found, self-confidence, you would be giving them the foundation to what would ultimately become their independence.  Don’t speak at them.  Do not be a fool.  People come from a long line of variously difficult and challenging worlds.  It’s not always about self-respect and wanting to have power.  Some people haven’t been given the same tools, the same ideals, and the same sense of possibility and therefore they flounder.  But instead of tearing them down further and making ridiculous comments about drug testing welfare recipients and how some people are takers who feed off of the “real Americans”, maybe it’s time you stepped up and admitted that the only reason why the government is in the position it is in now, where through taxes, entitlement programs and regulations we are legally forcing the mighty to reach into their pockets to help the less fortunate, is because when we do it the “traditional” way, the rich deny being from the same national family as those who need some help and without government intrusion we would basically be handing out death sentences to the weary among us.

Just as it has been stated time and time again that it would be better that 10 guilty men go free so that one innocent man need not be punished unjustly, the same holds true with the charity of our American spirit.  It would be better that we err on the side of compassion and unity.  It would be better that for every handful of decent human beings that simply needs our help we occasionally help someone who is just taking advantage of the system.  Because the minute we let that scam artist define us, we stop being Americans helping Americans and we become an “every man for himself” nation that falls when divided.

I would like to state that I am very much in favor of reformatting the methods in which our state, federal and even local governments assign this aid.  I have seen, up close and personal, a lot of abuse of these programs designed to help.  But that doesn’t mean that in the meantime we abandon one another in our times of need.

Seeing these big companies try to make examples out of their employees, holding their hours, their pay, their self-respect hostage to shoot our president down just as he is finally moving forward with the agenda we voted him into office on in 2008, let alone our continued support just a few days ago is enough to make me want to give up hope that we will ever reach the hearts of these radical, right winged, extremists.  Surrounded by their greed, we will need to stand strong, united against their hatred and lies.

Let’s not forget the least of those among us who need our love, support, acknowledgement and hope.  It is for all of them that we continue to move forward.

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2 responses to “Hand Over the Sandwich”

  1. Isaac Littsey says :

    Jen,

    Thanks for a well written and insightful post. I wish you much success with Civic Resolve. I’ll be glad to follow your site, and I look forward to future thoughts. Thanks for sharing.

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