Here comes a full-blown rant

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Be forewarned – I am going on a rant. So if you are not a fan of rants, leave this column and read something other than what is about to spew forth from my keyboard.

For a while, especially since the government shutdown, I’ve read comments about those in our country who are welfare recipients. There is also a lot said about folks who don’t have healthcare coverage.

The majority of the comments are negative. Seems the overriding opinion is, if you are getting federal assistance, you are lazy and spend your days lying around waiting for a check. Similarly, if you don’t have health insurance, you are lazy and don’t work.

At this point, I could discuss welfare statistics; write about how a largest percentage of welfare recipients are elderly and disabled. I might argue that another chunk of the benefits goes to working households and that the smallest percentage of the welfare pie goes to non elderly, non disabled, non working households. And those statistics are in every source you check.

We could discuss how many without healthcare coverage are employed instead sitting at home waiting for free insurance to show up. Yes, I could write about those statistics, but I realize that will do nothing to encourage us to be less ready to make negative comments.

So let’s try this. Instead of talking about that mass of “welfare” people, let’s see them as individuals, people who for whatever reasons find themselves in need of help.

I’m betting if we met them, heard their stories, felt what they feel, not one of us would hesitate to help if we had the means to help. And if we step outside our judgmental mindset, we may even have compassion for those we view as taking advantage of the system.

We might realize that had we come up in the same circumstances, with the same influences and the same life experiences, we would be standing exactly where they stand. Our choices would likely be no different from theirs.

And if we seek guidance on this subject, spiritual teachings have a lot to say. For example, Deuteronomy 15:11 says, “There will always be poor people in the land. Therefore I command you to be openhanded toward your brothers and toward the poor and needy in your land.”

Or the words written in the book of James — Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, “Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.” James 2:15-17

So how about instead of negative comments about how those who benefit from social programs are the problem in this country, we get up from our computers and find out if we can help a family or mentor a young person or see to the needs of the elderly. Instead of writing rants, I’ll take food to a local program that feeds those in need.

It is easy to comment and point fingers at each other, something I can be guilty of doing. It is convenient to blame that faceless mass the media labels “welfare recipients.” We can do that from the comfort of our homes, and some of us from the comfort of our beach house or while we are on vacation at Disney World.

Perhaps more than welfare reform we need a dose of gratitude for the blessings the majority of us enjoy. If we focus on that instead of on how those benefiting from government programs are taking something from us, our outlook will surely be different.

That is the end of my rant. Well except for this, “If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth. 1 John 3:17-18