I am appalled at some of the vitriol I encounter and the ridiculous overgeneralizations about people on public assistance. Not necessarily here, though sometimes it gets a bit harsh. I’m talking more about comments on news articles - and even though I realize that those who make the really hideous comments are speaking out of their ignorance and small-mindedness, I’m only human, and sometimes it really makes me feel hurt and angry. :mad:
I’m on Social Security Disability and have a small amount of food stamps. And I have in the past collected unemployment and larger amounts of food stamps. I also worked, when I was able to find something where I could function with my anxiety and other psychiatric issues. There were a few times too, in the sake of full disclosure, when I was discouraged and fearful and did not pursue employment as aggressively as I probably should have.
I did not make the decision to apply for disability lightly; in fact, I resisted it during times when I probably should have gone ahead with it years ago. Would you like to know why? Because back then, I felt that it would be a defeat, and I wanted to try to find some way to return to “normalcy” and not get trapped in poverty. I still hope this may be possible in the future, but I’d come to the end of the road at the time I did apply 3-1/2 years ago.
There are people who commit terrible abuses of the system, I am fully aware of that. And I’ve thought judgmental things and even spoken them myself. Like why the clients of the social services at the state office building sit outside smoking cigarettes. Or why they have large, obviously costly tattoos. Or why they can’t give chastity a chance rather than having to have sex and the women getting pregnant or the men fathering a string of children by different women yada yada yada. (And imagine the stink-eye I get when, as a Catholic, I voice my view that I still don’t believe they should be forcibly sterilized or put on contraceptives :eek: that even if a baby is conceived out of wedlock, we should take care of the baby and not resent him or her, and keep praying for the parents to get their lives together.)
So I’m no saint - any halo I might have is in need of a good rim-straightening and plenty of polish before it’ll shine. I’ll say that I’m working on not being judgmental. Even if it means turning a blind eye, or thinking, well, maybe they got that tattoo when they had more money, and it’s hard to quit smoking.
It hurt (this was before the disability came through) that when I had no income I was turned down for cash assistance because I didn’t have some out-of-wedlock kids - I was an ABAWD (Able-Bodied Adult Without Dependents) which I guess in the minds of those who make the rules = shiftless dope addict bum.
It hurts that my staunch-German-work-ethic family thinks less of me than it does of my cousins who are fornicating and cohabitating - but they have jobs, so they’re great people! My aunt/godmother gives me the litany when I call of who’s working where and how early they get up to get there or whatever. I just say “That’s nice” or “Mmmm-hmmm. . .” because I know what she’s driving at.
Finally, as I already stated above, I may have my faults, plenty of them, but I am extremely grateful for what I am receiving; it may have saved me from a despair that might’ve led to thoughts of suicide (there were those temptations during the darkest times and I had to pray to St. Michael or reaffirm my Baptismal Promises to get them to go away - and I’d usually end up having a good cry :bighanky: and then be able to keep going).
I try to “pay it forward” in intangible ways - helping friends, being a listening ear, giving advice on CAF and hoping I can help someone that way. I don’t take it for granted. I’m trying to put my life back together. Thank you for reading this.
Finally, I understand that there might be better ways to organize the system - and maybe someday it will get the changes it needs. I understand taxpayer resentment, up to a point. President George W. Bush was trying to encourage “faith-based initiatives” at one time but that has kind of fallen by the wayside. Our local Catholic Charities is so overwhelmed it can’t do much for anybody. I don’t know what the solution is going to be. :shrug: