Marcie and others-
I appreciate this discussion- great to consider all these complexities
and to realize how difficult it is to find just the right words to
describe what we are looking for.
Here are a few more thoughts:
1) The common thread is that all people should be respected, afforded
dignity and value.
2) There are those in our society who will never be able to participate
in "WORK" as we now define it.
3) Food, shelter, clean environment, and the means to an adequate
income are the responsibilities that the greater society is responsible
to attain for all.
I reject the notion that welfare is somehow inherently bad. If we were
to be more creative in how we look at, implement it, participate in it,
we could create something very powerful indeed.
I challenge all of us and especially those involved with food assistance
to expose the rhetoric of self-reliance, self-sufficiency or whatever
other labels whenever they are used to imply or promote the notion that
anyone who needs support and assistance from the greater society is
somehow at fault for that need. I think we are all at fault for not
trying harder to expose this. There is a great quote from a young man in
Jonathon Kozol's "Amazing Grace" --- Evil exists. I believe that what
the rich have done to the poor people ... is something the preacher
could call evil. Somebody has power. Pretending that they don't so
they don't need to use it to help people- that is my idea of evil."
Finally, a bit of an aside... I often wonder why it is that this country
keeps swinging back and forth on this issue of welfare. Perhaps it is
because we have never really embraced the values behind it. I don't
think it has to be inevitable that the pendulum swing back and forth,
with each passing swing yet another piece eroded. My cynical side says
the real reason the average person is so quick to accept the rhetoric
that poor people deserve what they get is because we all try to get out
of doing our civic duty- most notably- try to find ways to avoid paying
our taxes and thus there is a projection that the system inherently
causes all to try to find a way to beat it.
Okay, now finally-- To food bankers et al in the hunger relief system.
You have the power to expose the system for what it is. I challenge you
to think long and hard before you put any more money in trying to expand
your services- increase refrigeration, build warehouses, etc. Instead,
consider what you might do with that money were you to not stop what you
do now, continue at the rate you are going- even if it means giving just
a bit less so you can cover more- and start pooling resources to forge a
new direction. At the risk of appearing an insensitive, heartless,
uncaring person, I actually wonder what would happen if we (food bankers
et al) actually held a moratorium on any food assistance for one day as
a way of drawing attention.... I know it is just a gesture- but what
are the options? We don't want stop for so long that people actually
begin to starve, but would we really be harming them- would anyone be
any more harmed in the long run were we to try to do more toward
advocacy and less or the same in giving food? The reality is that try
as you might, the hunger relief system is no guarantee of adequate
nutrition for poor people. Let's start saying it like it is and make
sure that those who have been saying it are heard.
(Sorry for the long posting- I got away from myself...)
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