Saturday, July 16, 2011

LOOKING IN THE REARVIEW MIRROR

It was hot yesterday.  It’s been hot a lot these days.  It is summer in the mid-south.  Humidity coats the windows every morning.  The garden is lush but slowing because of the heat.  Yesterday, as I left to go to the store, my rearview mirror was loose.  It’s an American car.  Therefore the mirror is glued to the windshield rather than screwed into the frame.  Why American cars do this, I don’t know. 


I tried to push it back into the glue spot.  It wouldn’t hold.  Next thing I knew, it was in my hands.  I couldn’t drive without looking in my mirror.  I found some super glue and fixed it myself.  Now I could see behind me and in front of me. 

Life is sort of like that.  Going forward is the goal.  Watching the cars and obstacles in front of you is most important.  Yet, you need to be able to look back with clarity.  

At the end of day I had on talk radio as I returned home.  I was listening to Plain Jane Wisdom.  I’ve mentioned this show before.  I suppose I would call Kim and Devon friends.  They are Facebook friends.  However, the reality is they are barely acquaintances.  Nevertheless, I was happy to be able to hear the show.  It’s on at a bad time for me so I rarely catch it.

I don’t want to quote them since I know I can’t remember exactly what was said.  It can be argued that I misunderstood.  The question was posed to a male guest.  They asked something about what the Bible says is our responsibility to the poor.  The guest struggled with an answer.  Perhaps he wasn’t qualified to answer it.  From there the conversation went to typical conservative talk.  Welfare people want to collect a check and do nothing was the general theme.

I started looking in the rearview mirror of my own life.  I thought of all the times people would have labeled me.  I was on welfare.  I got food stamps.  I got commodity food.  I lived in a section 8 trailer and then advanced to the projects.  I was never lazy.  I never had this “sense of entitlement” that some folks throw around like a badge of shame.  I even looked up entitlement – you should too – I’ll make it easy for you, check this out.  It’s legal.  Social security is an entitlement that I think most of us feel belongs to us because we paid into it and would not want it taken away from our elders.  And here is a vocab word for you – pejorative – when you say “sense of entitlement” you are labeling “those” people in a negative way.

I wanted to call the show.  I wanted to counter the woman who talked about how her mother back in the 50’s didn’t have assistance and she made it as a single parent.  I also wanted to counter the comments about eating possum.  Come on… I wonder how when I was a single mother living in the projects would I have gone and shot a squirrel or possum to eat.  I did eat squirrel once but I certainly had no way to obtain it fresh.

I remember standing in long lines in the heat of a dog-days of a Missouri August to get some clothes for my kids to start school with.  I remember the stares and glares of people as I took out my food stamps to pay for our food.  It’s easy to assume and criticize when you don’t walk in someone else’s shoes.

The welfare system has changed since I was in/on it. I am all for helping people find meaningful employment.  But had that been the case when I was choosing whether to clean toilets for the rest of my life, or be a professional, I’d probably still be cleaning toilets and have never contributed to society the way I have.

And my kids?  I have children who are contributing – need a lawyer?  I got several.  Need a doctor? In a few years, I’ll have one.  Need an artist? I got one.  Need a skilled carpenter to build your house?  I got two.  Need an engineer?  In a year, I’ll have one.  None of that would have happened if there wasn’t an “entitlement” program that I could legally access and get through school.

In May 2013 when my doctoral hood is placed on my shoulders, the former welfare mom will be further equipped for the work of the ministry, which is: 
"The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed,  Luke 4:18

1 comment:

  1. It's cool to see how God has turned your life around. I'm sure that, through the process of being on Welfare, you learned things that God has and will continue to use in the lives of others. As to the systemic issues of the welfare system; it's complicated, we are all aware that the system isn't perfect, yet how to fix it is a real question.

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