Charity vs. Welfare
The following statement pretty much sums up the essence of this page:
"If Charity is the milk of human kindness, then Welfare is free government milk."
We haven't looked it up in the dictionary, so we don't know exactly how many definitions there are of charity. If we were to take an informal poll on the street, we imagine no two people would share a like definition, and many people would scratch their heads and talk about a lot of vague examples of charity, but few could define the principle.
Welfare, on the other hand, would probably start long political and social diatribes, with the end result that we would not find one person who was absolutely satisfied with the application of welfare concerns in our society.
We certainly could not expect to find even two people who have the same idea regarding the goals of of our welfare system, nor the understanding as to how those goals will be met.
It is said that Charity begins in the home.
Taken literally, this might mean simply that hand-me-downs are dutifully passed on within the family. It might mean that Mom & Dad give their kids an allowance, whether their kids earn it or not. It might even mean generosity between extended family members during hard times.
If Charity begins in the home, then where does Welfare begin?
More importantly, where does it end?
In our opinion, charity and welfare are two distinct concepts that have been twisted almost beyond recognition. Charity is, at least, associated with compassion, but welfare is associated with... what?
Throwing money, goods and services into the wind, in the vague hope that the well-meaning intent behind the money, goods and services will somehow "rub off" on the recipients.
Furthermore, in this fantasy, it is supposed that the "well-meaning intent that rubs off on the recipients" will somehow magically spark, stimulate, and drive the recipients to be as productive, hard-working, clever, and "blessed" as those who funneled their money, goods and services into this noble enterprise in the first place.
Are we to understand that good fortune, happy circumstance, and freedom from strife, are contagious? That simply through generosity, and the goodwill of fellow men and women, these material comforts are transmittable, and are truly enough to stimulate less fortunate people into a miraculous recovery from less-than fortunate circumstance?
This would be a miracle. (We know, because we've never seen it happen.)
Let us start by redefining both charity and welfare, and we will try to draw a bigger picture of what can be done with both.
Charity - the motivation to share, enlarge, empathize, and apportion an allotment of time, energy, and resource into solving problems for ourselves and our neighbors.
Welfare - the motivation, voluntarily or involuntarily, to grudgingly apportion money or resource to those less fortunate - whether we know them or not, so that they will "improve themselves" and be less of a burden on the rest of us.
And then there's what we might call "Welfarity" - to give money because we are pressured (or taxed) into it - or we feel guilty if we don't - in order to help people who are not notable in any way except that they are victims of chaos. (Often, their own.)
Welfarity often takes the form of "Benefits." Benefits for a Good Cause, Benefit for the Needy, Benefit for an excuse to wear party clothes, eat hors d'ouvres, and to talk about poor, pitiful people, and aren't we lucky not to be like them?
Benefits to celebrate our own sense of charity, yes?
If, on the other hand, the recipients of "welfare" were to throw a party in our honor, would we attend?
(Of course not, darling. Well after all, you can't expect us to eat what THEY eat... They'd probably use that government cheese and actually try to make a dip out of it. I believe it's called "Trailer Trash Dressing" or some such thing. Anyway, I could never be seen at such an affair. It's not that I dislike them, you know. It's just that certain people wouldn't understand. You know how it is... But I did send a check. A rather large check, but not vulgarly large. I didn't want to seem pretentious. I only wanted to help, in my own small way. You know.)
But, the irony is that so-called welfare recipients would NEVER throw such a party in the first place. How can they celebrate something they despise? Who would throw a party to honor those supporting the economic and social system that maintains the conditions that support the need for a welfare state?
Charity, on the other hand, is what happens when neighbor helps neighbor. Neighbor, in the Biblical sense, doesn't necessarily mean that whom occupies a dwelling adjacent to your own; it means one who is alike, and given the same fortune, understanding, and skills as you, would do as well as you - but due to accident or specific misfortune, cannot - at least temporarily - do as well.
But, like sharing bread on a deserted island, or sharing water in the desert, one neighbor can simply help "rejuvenate" the neighbor, and then the neighbor will be strong enough to tackle his own battles.
The good neighbor is not obliged to fight his neighbor's battles. Charity is like the Sword - a tool to be used, a measure of strength distributed that allows the Soul facing conflict to simply have sufficient strength to fight his own battles.
Charity - and welfare - are meant to be short-term sustenance, but both have turned into intravenous bottles for the terminally ill.
When we look at the downtrodden, poor and uneducated people, those who were born without hope or fortunate circumstance - in short, those whose lives appear "terminal" to those of us more fortunate, what we need to do is kick their asses out of bed and get them to move around a little.
That's the purpose of charity, and ultimately of welfare.
We must change the sense of societal dependence on hand-outs, freebies, and giveaways. Our society is so accustomed to "passing around gravy and calling it a meal" that we don't even question what we're eating anymore.
The people eating the gravy know this isn't sustenance, that it might as well be drippings from the Master's plate, and while this isn't Dignity, it is, we suppose, better than starving.
But would we, who can afford to be charitable, feel the same?
If Charity begins at home, and if it begins with our neighbor, then we need to learn to recognize that our neighbor is US, and therefore feels as we do, and shares the same values. We would not beg; then presume that our neighbors, who are like us, would prefer not to beg, either.
Then why are they in the position of begging?
Because we/they have been socially conditioned to do so.
The welfare-state in this country (USA) really got off the ground in the 1930's. Before, there had been various charitable organizations, and of course, groups of individuals who felt compelled, for whatever reasons, to seek out the "unfortunates" and to offer assistance. Much of this took the form of missionary work, both here and abroad.
However misguided it may have been, it was at least sincere.
But the mutation of the welfare program in this country has gotten insanely out of hand. We are taxed, nationally, to help support welfare, but those of us who pay taxes never seem to meet the recipients of this tax money, or if we do, we don't see in any comprehensive way how this tax money may have actually enabled somebody to actually be better for it.
How often do we meet people who say, "If it weren't for the fact that my mama was on welfare all her life, I never could have gone to college."
How often do we hear, "Thanks to welfare, all my children are healthy, and have good self-esteem."
How encouraging it would be to hear, "Without welfare, I never would have had a chance."
Instead, we are more likely to hear about the vicious trap of welfare. Welfare only works if you stay on it. Welfare is an addictive trap that says do nothing and win a prize; do something remotely challenging, innovative or resourceful - and risk losing a sure-thing.
What we hear, then, is this:
"I wanted to send my kids to college, but then I wouldn't get a check from the government."
"Welfare is supposed to help me and my kids, but I have to take my kids to public/county hospitals and stay there all day."
"Welfare benefits don't cover my condition, and if I pull myself out of this mess, then I put myself into that mess, so I'm better off where I am."
Welfare-money sounds like easy-money, but it's really not.
First, you have to qualify. The humiliation alone should be qualification, but it's really not. Second, you have to be somewhat devoid of opportunity, even in this day and age of "You are a worthy human being" that has practically replaced "Your mama" as the graffiti of choice. Third, in order to keep qualifying for welfare, you must have no change in your circumstance; you must be relentlessly static, unimaginative, and unmotivated.
And, if an opportunity ever comes your way, you must turn it down in the face of " sense of security" that a steady check from the government provides.
It's easy to become addicted to predictability, especially where money's concerned. And yes, a regular pay-check - regardless of source - must be infinitely comforting in the face of an irregular or no check at all.
The people who supported welfare - in the 1930's - and the people who support it now - are the same people. They are the people who believe, with true charity in their hearts, that this money is intended to help disadvantaged people who just need a break, or even two or three, to help them "kick-start" their lives.
200 hundred years ago, in the time of our forefathers, "charity" was conducted by giving a "poor man down on his luck" a few extra geese or chicken, perhaps a hog, maybe some grain, to help "tide them over."
This was done with the understanding that as long as a person down-on-his-luck had the same basic opportunities as his neighbors, he had their same chances of surviving. If such a beneficiary soul didn't do as well, the basic response was, "Oh, well. Perhaps his dead body will ferment the soil, and the crops will do better this year."
It wasn't quite that callous, but it was that realistic. They did, after all, pray that the Soul would go to Heaven, but they had no pretensions about every incarnate human being "some kind of extra-special blessing from Above" that was more sacred than Life, itself. The forefathers didn't need Darwinism to tell them that some souls would survive, and the weaker ones would fail. They only prayed that they themselves were worthy of survival.
And they were.
Until the "welfare generation" was introduced in the 1930's, people didn't know they didn't have to be strong enough to survive.
Our government, and well-meaning do-gooders who never saw the light of Jesus (but think they own the flashlight) are the ones who perpetuate this state of communistic welfare disguised as charity.
Because welfare allows the privileged to remain so, and to feel entitled to it. As long as the downtrodden remain downtrodden, the status quo will always will be intact to keep the upper-crust upper.
It is so much easier to feel sorry for people down there. When they're up here, we feel - not just contempt - but a sense of contamination. But as long as they're down they're, they're as insignificant as alligators in a moat... provided you don't live in a castle, and only think that you do.
Why would one "feel sorry" for someone? Well, we always feel sorry for victims, don't we?
And who are the victims? Why, it must be the victims of "cruel poverty!"
What is "cruel poverty?" Gosh, it must be people who... can't do what we do! And that makes them poor... Yet, sometimes, it ain't the whiteys who are thinking this... it's the homeys thinking this is what white people think.
Well, homeys - and the white bread - can be pretty weird, I admit, but gee whiz, you ought to see what they can do when they work together.
All this time that the government has been sneaking in the welfare state, because of certain legislation, there are other legislators who have been sneaking in other things.
Such as equal opportunity, regardless of sex, race, color, handicap or religion. Civil rights (applying to all of the above) are applicable to all.
It is only ignorance that the government can't legislate. Even God couldn't do that.
Uninformed is not the same thing as ignorant. Welfare does tend to foster ignorance, not through malignance, but through apathy. But, it is safe to say that many people trapped into the welfare cycle are ignorant and uniformed.
Start getting informed, and the ignorance pattern will start falling away. By bring informed, you begin to lose the patterns of both welfare and ignorance - it's safe to say they're mutually inclusive. By becoming informed, you become less dependent on whatever the flavor-of-the-week propaganda the government hands out.
Learn to use welfare as charity, and to understand that welfare is a matter of concern to us all. Even the U.S. Constitution promoted the idea of "general welfare", meaning, that we should be able to distribute our resources - in a non-communistic way - to assist each other, without interfering in anyone's lifestyle.
Those who need help can get help; the help is out there. It is true, there are hundreds of phone numbers one may have to dial to get a response to one's unique situation. But, in a sense, even with this ridiculous bureaucracy we all bitch about, isn't it actually sort of nice that we have so many numbers, instead of one? It's like the lottery - if we have that many chances to dial (most of which are 800 numbers) perhaps we'll find someone nice who really wants to help.)
For those who NEED the welfare money, for whatever reason, those same people can start finding resources and agencies of people who can help them. Junior, with his race, religion, and handicap, can find someone who wants to help him get through college.
At the same time, there are multiple entities and individuals who understand that just because Junior can go to college doesn't mean Mama can make it on her own.
There are those who understand that when Junior is thinking about college, he's having to make a decision about whether to take care of himself or to take care of Mama.
Some people are well-intentioned, and to them charity and welfare is one word. We say, let them have it. The intent is the same.
Charity, or welfare, there are people who want to help. If you're not too proud to take welfare, then why on earth be afraid to take charity? Welfare is from the wallet, but charity is from the heart.
Charity, when we can give and receive, unconditionally, is the true bridge of kindness and empathy. Charity, in its perfect form, doesn't keep score.
Take the charity, then, and the welfare, because they were created to benefit those in need. Reject that which is simply an effort to buy your vote and to keep you "sedated" while other legislative acts are being enacted to keep you repressed or ineffective; accept those acts which are designed to give you a little push and to help you go your own way within the system.
It's a funny thing about charity, and kindness; when people commit such acts, it tends to be our cynical instinct to ask "what's in it for them?"
Wouldn't it be funny if the answer were simply "Because I enjoy it."
Let the Haves share with the Have Nots. It makes the world a more interesting place - for all of us.