Here I Stand, So help Me God
“The evil in this world almost always comes from ignorance, and good intentions may do as much harm as malevolence if they lack understanding.” – Albert Camus
I was born in San Francisco, grew up in Marin County just 30 minutes away and now live in San Francisco. I graduated with a B.A. in Theater Arts from a small liberal arts college (yeah I know). I lived within American liberalism my whole life, and although it is striking and intoxicating, I always felt as if there was something basic yet unseen that made it, for lack of a better term, wrong. I have only recently been able to put it into words, but it was a long road, it required a hefty load of reading, thought, and personal experience. In my opinion, philosophically and morally, the American welfare state as it stands now is inhumane and a tool by which to control a populace.
Two years ago I received the honor of being offered a couple jobs as a Para-educator (a one on one or assistant aid for special needs classrooms). I chose to work at the school my father went to, servicing kids from the most rough of neighborhoods. I thought it would be good for me because I lived middle-class in one of the richest counties in the country most of my life. I fell in love with the community almost instantly. My father, who also worked the neighborhood as a beat cop, gave me a hint before I started working there, simple and prophetic, “be real.” I was, and although the situations of the children make it mentally and emotionally exhausting, the people you work with, the talent, humor, ingenuity and intelligence of the children get you through. That is, if you can keep hope, because cold, sharp statistics are like steel daggers in your mind. I can’t help but think of new Einsteins, new Pattons, new Edisons-children that may have possibly been epoch changing forces, being caught in the net of circumstance and choked like un-flowered buds. I certainly see the potential every day from when I walk into work until I leave. Endless potential.
I agree that there must be a social safety net. A robust economically active economy can easily provide that. If that safety net starts to constitute a sizable portion of the economy, we start getting into dangerous ground. A safety net is designed to catch, not to hold. If you trap a human being in a situation of being a ward of the state, it is incredibly destructive. Psychologically, it forces feelings of inferiority and incapability, or develops a belief that at least others believe you are inferior or incapable. It is like a mental prison for our youth, and I can tell you first hand it is horrific to deal with either way it manifests, whether outwardly or inwardly. The belief that programs that single out people as more in need than others are compassionate is simply wrong. Compassion is helping someone succeed; it is not making them a slave to the scraps of others. It is as painfully simple as the Chinese proverb. Moreover, who is going to fish when they are handed a fish daily? In a person’s self-conscience it is inevitable that if they don’t do something of purpose, they suffer. In my opinion, you can see how it manifests with freakouts, fights and beatings being posted on video sharing sights daily, crime stats, test scores and heartbreaking stories on your local news.
Politicians that seek to help by doing more of the same are acting inhumanely. Either from ignorance or malevolence, it matters not; our overbearing, incompetent, unsustainable Welfare state is no solution because it adds to the problem. It turns whole swaths of society into indentured servants to whatever party wishes to pay for them to continue on aimless and suffering. It may get votes. It may look good. It may be easy to claim that anyone that would try to fix the problem just wants to hurt those who are suffering. Yet, reality persists. The numbers certainly don’t lie. The problem has gotten worse since the solution was enacted.
Humanity is unstoppable, no matter the color, class, or whatever convoluted title you can place on a particular individual. If you give people the freedom to succeed and you expect them to, they will, if you give them the choice not to then that is inhuman. We don’t have to watch as the very “compassionate” society we designed strangles many of our best and brightest. Fix it, or that high horse is just what it drops behind him.
“When Josef Stalin was on his deathbed he called in two likely successors, to test which one of the two had a better knack for ruling the country. He ordered two birds to be brought in and presented one bird to each of the two candidates. He then instructed each of them to make sure that the bird did not fly away. The first one grabbed the bird, but was so afraid that the bird could free himself from his grip and fly away that he squeezed his hand very hard, and when he opened his palm, the bird was dead. Seeing the disapproving look on Stalin’s face and being afraid to repeat his rival’s mistake, the second candidate loosened his grip so much that the bird freed himself and flew away. Stalin looked at both of them scornfully. “Bring me a bird!’ he ordered. They did. Stalin took the bird by its legs and slowly, one by one, he plucked all the feathers from the bird’s little body. Then he opened his palm. The bird was laying there naked, shivering, helpless. Stalin looked at him, smiled gently and said, “You see… and now he is even thankful for the human warmth coming out of my palm.”