Thursday, April 2, 2015

Who Deserves Food Stamps?



It is a difficult question and I confess I may pose more inquiries today than answers.  I have heard many requests that people who apply for food stamps ought to be subject to a drug test before receiving help from the state.  It may be a wise procedure and as I find myself participating in a food drive this month I cannot help but ponder the issue within the walls of American society.

Many of my family and friends have received food stamps and each situation proves remarkably different.  One friend, for example, has six children and a very unstable job.  One may think that it was her fault for having six children, but knowing her situation as I do, I know point blank that it was never her intention to bear so many, especially when she has need of care herself.  Life’s situations often prove sticky.  But here is another indication.  She has moved into the least expensive situation she can find and through the grace of heaven pays no rent.  She shops at thrift stores for clothes for herself and her children, drives whatever car she can, tightens her belt, lives beneath her scanty means and saves as much money as she can for the use and benefit of raising her kids.  Her husband’s habits are equally frugal.  They have precious little in terms of money but they work together and are rich in love for each other and their little ones. 

It pains and grieves me to describe another situation in which some friends accepted a great deal of charity.  College brought me many friends, including a couple with one child who lived off the generosity of their associates and also food stamps.  They lived in a dingy apartment with an old car but in many respects their situation proved much stranger.  Drug tests would have proven them both clean, but a great anguish permeated their lives on a different level.  The husband claimed he could not find work, but in truth would turn down jobs at fast food restaurants and the like because he claimed the work was beneath his level of expertise and intelligence.  Instead, he received numerous student loans and sent his wife to work as an exotic dancer.  She made excellent money when she “went to hell,” as she put it but both also fell into the habit of spending liberally what they received so easily and quickly found themselves broke yet again.  It became a cycle which she informed me proves quite common in the life of a stripper.  One may think that they were being irresponsible, vile and making wrong choices and ought to be punished rather than rewarded with food stamps.  My friends, consider whether they were not already punished enough?  The psychological prison in which they lived surely stands as one of the bleakest I have ever encountered.  I don’t know the answer to that on a governmental level but as a human I cannot help but pity them.  I stayed with them in friendship, offering them time, counsel, money, and helping him find a job as best I could until their spiritual lives turned around enough to enable her to feel the damage she was doing to herself and finally quit her miserable job. 

Maybe…maybe in order to aid our country’s financial strain we need to seek out the one as human beings.  Maybe changing society isn’t altogether up to the government at all.  Perhaps we, in our own personal lives need to be a friend to those in need, not only in handing them money and food but in loving them, setting them a better example without being judgmental of their weaknesses and helping them to look upwards until they can shatter their own psychological manacles and learn to want to help themselves.  

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