As a home heath nurse for many years, before I went into hospice care, I visited the homes of people all over So. Calif. I saw patients in almost every socioeconomic situation, and people of every race and creed. I have so many memories of those times, but will (at least try) to concentrate on some related to charity.
We hear a lot about the “poor,” and even are told that some “children” (more about that later) don’t have enough to eat and need charity to provide toys and games because they don’t have any. Therefore, every church and community I know of tries to collect food and toys to give to these poor folks, especially during holidays. They sincerely think that this is “charity” and that they are doing good deeds.
But what is the truth? I offer for your consideration a tiny bit of what I saw in the homes of so many of these “poor” people.
Disclaimer! Remember that all of these people have a perfect right to live however they please, eating whatever they want, and ignoring the teaching of anyone they don’t want to bother with. But that right does not include demanding (and getting) someone else to take responsibility, or pay the price.
I saw seriously obese adults and children, eating mountains of fast food and every kind of “convenience” food with little or no nutritional value. I actually watched a young mother of two in a grocery store. She had a full cart. I watched in amazement as the checker took each item out and scanned it. There was not one shred of fresh, whole or nutritious food that I could see. Lots of soda pop, white bread, deli meats and potato chips, sugar sweet dry cereal and donuts. And then the woman was furious when the clerk told her none of those things could be purchased with the food stamps!!
I watched as tots of two and three hauled around a 2 liter bottle of cola or other soft drink, refusing to eat or drink almost everything else. They smiled sometimes, revealing blackened, rotting baby teeth.
Most of the young women had little or no idea how to cook, shop for value, or store anything. They had serious health problems as a result, of course. But they usually didn’t have any interest in learning how to change that.
Imagine trying to teach a family the requirements to manage diabetes, often more than one family member, when they had no skills to cope with it… and no desire to learn! They wanted the doctor, the nurse, SOMEONE to give them a magic pill or device that would relieve them of the responsibility for their condition, and FIX IT without any effort on their part. They took more insulin than ordered, for example, because they figured that it would negate the donuts and soda pop they consumed regularly. Until their toes were amputated, and they went blind. But then they were adamant that it was all the fault of the medical people.
But I digress…
“But, but, think of the hungry children!” And how many of these “children” live in homes with all the modern conveniences, large screen TV, electronic gadgets of every kind, cars even and boats and an ATV… with the adults happily drinking, smoking and so forth while their children are tagged at “school” as obese and unmanageable.
Yeah, those children. And it is nothing new. I saw lots of malnourished and sickly children and adults over my 30 year career, but I don’t remember ever seeing any who were actually hungry – with no option to obtain healthy food. They simply had other priorities, and more stolen goods from productive people can’t change that.
And the poor children who supposedly “need” more toys? I remember the complete clutter in so many homes with children. Broken toys littering the floors, especially the (often individual) bedrooms. One day I watched while two teens gathered broken and discarded toys, books, puzzles and clothing into large plastic bags. To be thrown away because the fire department was bringing them all new stuff from “Toys for Tots.”
A great deal has been written about the destructiveness of government welfare, with entire generations having no reason at all to be responsible for themselves or to respect the lives and property of others. If the government steals, that must mean it’s ok to steal? Remember the mother of a teen killed in the middle of a robbery? She said something like, “…how else can he get money for books and things?” Do you think there are a lot of others with that twisted perspective? I do. And they are not all living in the ghettos of Chicago either.
A generous and loving person willingly gives of himself, in whatever way seems good to him/her. Always has been so, when it is voluntary of course. True charity is to teach a man to fish… etc. To build his self worth and increase his independence. But that man must be willing to learn. And he must be content to eat the fish he will catch as his reward.
What we must cope with these days are the herds of people who have been taught all their lives that they are entitled to what others produce, and those who use the theft of that wealth to control and keep the herd worshiping them. And far, far too many people who don’t understand any of that, or think they can – and are entitled to – use the situation to participate in the control of others, and the theft. Too many people use a twisted idea of “charity” as a means to control others – or make themselves feel good in spite of the damage it causes to the recipients.
The desire/compulsion to control the lives and property of others is the ROOT of all evil. Control is at the root of all aggression. I can’t say that often enough.
Here in Michigan, we have the Toys for Tots drive. My wife has a high school friend whose husband is involved with them, who drives a semi truck for the group. They actually pick up trailer loads of toys, but don’t deliver them to kids at Christmas. They deliver them to a huge warehouse, which is almost full of toys that they have in storage from previous years. They rotate the toys out and replace them with the new ones collected this year. So many people give, thinking that the poor kids won’t have a Christmas without them. When I first heard about this, I didn’t know what to think. Now, I just donate to the needy that I personally know. That way, I know that it goes to those who actually will need it, and not to those who abuse it.
Exactly. And the same is true for many “community food pantries.” I tried to donate some canned goods here one year a while back, and I was told they could not accept anything with the “best by date” not well into the future. Those things are not spoiled, and I eat them all the time. But, you see, the “poor” are too good for that. Then, from talking further to her, I discovered that they regularly go through what they have and TRASH anything that is “out of date.” That works for cheese, maybe, but canned goods? Dry beans and macaroni? (Which they won’t accept anyway… nobody wants it, she said.) I never donated another thing. I’ll make a meal for anyone who comes to my house, but I won’t have anything to do with this nonsense.
I think that I heard that the date for the products are put on by the manufactures and are only dates that they guarantee that the products are still of good quality. They are not a hard date as to when you have to throw something out, or anything like that. I know that we have eaten things past their sell by date many times.
As to the food pantries, there was a time, a couple of years ago, that my wife and I found ourselves using them. We got to talking to people in line with us there, and they said that they always took anything given out, even if they didn’t eat that particular food item, because they gave it away to other people that they knew who also were in dire straights. The longer we stayed in poverty, the more I learned that it was the truly needy that took care of themselves and others in the same boat. Not the people who were taking advantage of the system, but those who were truly needy, and were trying to get by, until they could get out of the place where they found themselves in. And most of these people were trying to pull themselves out of the poverty that they were in. They might be out of work, and out of unemployment. They were looking for work, but this was back when jobs were not there, unlike now, when if you really want to work, there are jobs out there. Just like the minimum wage. All you have to do is show up, on time for 3 months, and you will get a raise. Do that for another six months, and you will be made an assistant manager, for a McDonalds. Do a good job at assistant manager, for a year or two, and you can move up to district manager. Take a class or two, and you can move up even more. All it takes to move up is ambition and strong work ethics.
Getting back to the needy taking care of each other, it was the rule and not the exception that those of us back then who were in need only had to ask and those who had a little extra were quick to offer to give out of their meager excess. We even had a website on the book of face where those needs could be made known and answered. We didn’t wait for the government to give us a handout, or for them to help others. We did it ourselves. I think that is the way it is supposed to be. My wife and I used their help on more than one occasion, but we also helped others more than we asked for help. I suspect that is how it was for most people there. The people who take advantage of the system of the welfare state would have little use of this program, since the focus was on food or goods, and not on money. And anyone trying to take advantage of people doing these kinds of things would stick out quickly, and be shutdown in a heartbeat.
I know what you mean. People, voluntarily helping others, is the ideal. I’ve been at the bottom looking up myself. When I was 10 years old, my mother and 8 year old sister found ourselves living in an old car (that didn’t run well) on a mean street in a So. Calif. city. Mother had lost her job, and the car had been in an accident almost immediately after. She didn’t have any assets but the beater car and our clothing after that. She went around to various “charities” and gov. offices, but was turned down everywhere until she went to the Salvation Army. They got us into a fleabag flophouse hotel for a few nights, provided some basic supplies for a few meals (PB & J sandwiches, milk and cereal), but most of all they helped mother find a JOB. They gave her some clothes to wear to the interview, and I’m sure that helped. With their help, it wasn’t long before we had a small rental house, and mother began to save for a better car. My sister and I were able to go to school and suffered no more harm from it than teasing.
You see… Mother had been an alcoholic. She found AA and became active. She never drank again, but she spent a good part of the rest of her life working with both the Salvation Army and AA to reach others who needed help. Mother was an angel, and my best friend. From that time forward there was never a person who entered our home who left unfed, unclothed, unloved or even unhugged… unless they insisted on it. There was always another place at the table, a bed of blankets and such on the couch, someone to talk to who understood… and no compulsion or trickery either.
It was a wonderful life. 🙂
As a “slumlord” I can testify to all of the above and much more.
And that, of course, is why “low cost housing” isn’t available without the force and theft of “government.” Nobody in their right mind wants to build, maintain and pay taxes on property that will be destroyed as fast as irresponsible “tenants” can manage to trash it. Not to mention that it’s almost impossible to evict them once they are moved in. And in some places, that is true of ANY rental.
At one point my family actually had to, briefly, live in government “low cost housing.” The cockroaches were almost big enough to ride. We moved as soon as the next assignment orders came through, and that time we were lucky enough to get on base housing. Not Beverly Hills, by any means, but at least the cockroaches had to wipe their feet.