Friday, August 27, 2010

A post where I become just as judgmental as the people I accuse of judging

I keep seeing things on my Facebook homepage that are annoying the ever-living crap out of me.

Friends with things they like that make my nose bleed.

Friends that like If I need to be drug-tested for my job, than you need to be drug-tested for welfare, or

If you can afford alcohol and cigarettes, you shouldn't be on welfare, or

I have a stick up my ass when it comes to government-sponsored safety nets, and where's my hand-out?

(Okay, I made that last one up.)

And my eyes kind of glaze over and I want to punch something.

Look, I know there are people who abuse the system. But I also know there are people trying to make it. And I can only think of these things in oversimplified terms, much like those Facebook 'likes' that I despise so much, because I don't know what the answer is.

I have zero idea -- how we can make our economy productive and provide jobs with benefits that pay a decent wage or how to make parents do their job or how to ensure that people have good food to eat or a safe place to live. Zero idea. How to turn blight into beauty or garbage-strewn empty lots into gardens where flowers don't get stolen.

But I also kind of just think in my head, would you want to trade places? You have to pee in a cup but that guy collecting doesn't. Time to turn that into status update!

I think that's one of the myriad of reasons I loved the book Take This Bread. The food pantry the author started fed everyone. Even the people who were probably cheating, even the people who inevitably took more than their share, even the loud and belligerent and drunk and high. Everyone.

The other is that it just fits my idea of Communion. A loud, messy, imperfect table, full of personalities and flaws, but always the power of love and redemption accompanying the chaos.

It wasn't some kind of feel-good venture. It was hard work. And it constantly tested, this concept that we help all who show up. Tempers flared, angry arguments were had, people were frightened and uncomfortable. This business wasn't for the faint of heart.

And I just want to ask these friends, why do you begrudge? Why? Why take a crazy complex economical and sociological problem and turn it into some kind of flip statement that makes you sound borderline envious?

Because I know that things aren't always right and fair and equitable. But I also know who has and maintains a greater share, of everything. And it's most certainly not the poor.


Wormwood's Doxy said...

I soooooo wish I had written this....

Thanks for putting it so beautifully. I don't have all the answers either--but I do know that I'd rather have a "misplaced" compassion for the poor and struggling than to turn into a smug judge of other people's misfortunes. "There but for the grace of God go I...."


Lauralew said...

Thanks for articulating so well what I have often thought.

And just this am, one of my more liberal FB friends actually had as a status update the drug tested blurb. Funny thing is, she is self employed!

Muthah+ said...

Keep asking those questions. It is rants like these that will keep the faith going into the next "Who cares" era. And more that just asking question, demand answers!

Fran said...

Oh - I so hear you.

I work here at a church as you know and I see people come in all day long who need help. Many of your friends, and many of my friends as well, would not think are deserving. Honestly, sometimes I struggle...

But it is not my place to judge and the table is big and loud and messy and frankly quite annoying... because our friends who don't feel like others deserve get to come sit there too.

And honestly, and practically... for all those who are putting one over on the system, whatever system - are in the minority.

Thank you for this. And how nice to see Doxy and Laura here!!

Fran at work

Anonymous said...

OK, now you're forcing me to log onto FB so I can make up a status...

(Usually I get this sort of thing via forwarded emails from my mother, who doesn't seem to think for herself very often.)

Fran said...

I just read this and had to come back to leave it here.

It will also go in my status update... which I hope people actually do like! :-)

If you desire peace, cultivate justice, but at the same time cultivate the field to produce more bread; otherwise there will be no peace.

- Norman Borlaug
from his Nobel Lecture

eileen said...

Too many people feel put upon by others whom they perceive as digging into their pockets. They want to find some form of control over something that effects their daily lives in such a big way - their personal bottom line.

Most people have little perceivable control over the economy - they can't control that groceries cost more, or that their insurance went up, or that they aren't getting much of a return on their tiny savings, or that they have worked for years at good job, but haven't gotten a raise since the economy went into the crapper.

They do feel, however, that they have some ability to control the hand of the government in their pocket by their votes. And because the middle class bears the largest comparative tax burden, these folks look at "those" people as an unfair burden to them - those who don't do enough for themselves and seem to make a living living off the government. They perceive some modicum of control there or at least some sphere of influence.

They just forget (or live in denail of the fact) that for the majority of Americans, one little financial derailment, and there we'll plop, right there among "them". "Those" people who we've railed against.

It's a sad world when we seem to feel a need to feed the most vulnerable as a living sacrifice of sorts. Although, it's certainly not a new world, in that it's not a new thing, but a continuation of an ancient one. Check history.

I couldn't agree with you more on this whole thing. Makes me angry, breaks my heart. And like you, beyond speaking out against it, I have no idea how to make it better.

MemeGRL said...

I just called out my brother in law on an "I shouldn't have to press 1 for English, this is America!" post. He couldn't even remember clicking on it. I don't get the denial of basic services to people who are still learning the language. I just don't. How is this an inconvenience?

Anyway. I'm with you on these FB statuses, and thanks for phrasing it better than I can!

John Shepard said...

Kudos to you for this post! It helps put our world into perspective. Thanks.

Lindy said...

People say stuff like that to feel that they have a little power. it's a result of increasing insecurity. Most of my friends who post those are poor themselves, uneducated, and/or Southern Baptists... I don't blame them. I blame a system that causes them to feel that they are under attack and have to fight back, if only with words made up by someone else.

I mean, it makes me livid too. But, I understand that it's victims abusing other victims and they all are deserving of compassion.

Laura said...

Loved, loved, loved that book. Great post.

painted maypole said...

yes! thank you. i really wish there was a way to block what people "like" on FB. Who makes that crap up, anyone, and why on earth does anyone bother to "like" it??

And I think that while there surely are people abusing all of our social service programs, the money that they cost the taxpayers is likely TEENY TEENY TINY compared to what the crooked CEOs et al are costing us.

RuthWells said...

AMEN, SISTER! (Sorry, I had to shout.)

RuthWells said...

AMEN, SISTER! (Sorry, I had to shout.)

claire said...


You're a very open-minded person. You have friends that would never be mine.

I realized that none of my FB friends irritate me. Probably, simply, because we all share the same kind of likes and dislikes...

You see my drift?

On the other hand, I find that I am too old to be around folks that irritate me and bring just bile and toxic thoughts to my life. People I won't change -- and wouldn't want to change anyway.

At any rate, bravo for being who you are!

Pamela said...

yes yes yes.
(and my word verification is rants)

Monica said...

Absolutely wonderful. Thank you so much for writing this. I've never been able to articulate this but I couldn't agree more. Thank you thank you thank you, and I hope you don't mind, but I'm sharing this far and wide.

Homemaker Man said...

Here from I'll Raise You 5. Really good post. And to answer your probably rhetorical question, people do it because they're scared and constantly being bombarded with misinformation.

Jen said...

Here from Monica's FB link to your blog, and I agree with you completely. And also with Doxy's comment. Even if someone is cheating the system and milking it... is that any way I'd want to live? I've lived on unemployment and WIC and on very little money, and still I had more than people living on welfare, and it was difficult and terrifying. If someone chooses to live like that, what mountains of vague awfulness are they trying to climb inside their heads? I don't believe anyone would choose to live off welfare and feel beholden to others, instead of having a decent-paying job, if they had the chance.

I'd also rather be naive than tight-fisted.