Efforts to dialogue with Dan Rodricks’ position (that is, take it seriously) led to a lot of confusion and self-doubt in my prayer time Friday morning 10/25/13.
The past week’s instability in my support system had forced me to ask for and accept significant (by my standards) amounts of money from acquaintances who had never donated to me before. It was as if the Cosmos was retaliating for things I said in “Chaos overwhelms the poor.” Am I a panhandler already myself? Is there any shame in that? Am I in any way a better investment than the drunks who panhandle on the street?
In 2004, when I first applied for food stamps, I confided in a friend at church, “I cannot tell you what a relief it is to not have to choose between bus fare and supper.”
When I told my family, however, one sister-in-law launched a campaign to get them all to disown me. She told me I was blaming my kin for my difficulties. She said I was stealing food from “old geezers’” tables. She said I’d brought shame on the whole family, which puzzles as these people were in Ohio and Texas, and it’s not as if their friends and neighbors had need to know anything about me. She told her husband she didn’t want to be married to a man whose brother receives food stamps. Her stand is that no one should give me anything.
As un-American as that sounds — I was raised to look at a man’s conduct, not his circumstances. — it is nonetheless what I hear from the Tea Party. We poor are all worthless, and no one should give us anything. In fact, what little we do have — in my case, food stamps and PAC — should all be taken away.
It is currently a condition of the marriage, that I have no direct contact with that brother.
Is society morally obligated to carry forever adult infants who will never do anything to help (care for) themselves?
I often daydream (that is, pray) about climbing up a ladder, out of the pit of poverty, back up into the socio-economic mainstream. Once I do get to the top, I cannot say I got there all on my own. I have had a ton of support from generous friends and kin for many years. The only way I can ever pay them back — the only return they can get on their investment — is for me to develop such self-care as to want, and work, to become self-supporting, to acquire material wealth, and then “pay it forward.” I pray every day to become able to be as generous to others, as others have been to me.
In response to Dan Rodricks’ call to “address the underlying issues,” the recent post “Obstacles to my prosperity” lays out some of the very limited ways The System might can facilitate growth for people like me.
No one expects a baby to learn to walk on its own.
(Originally posted 12/07/13.)
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