The America I Know



I am troubled by the headlines in the news.
The House of Representatives removed the SNAP program from the farm bill they passed this weeks saying they would deal with the food stamp program at a later date. At the same there seems to be more people hungry, more families below the poverty line, more people lining up each week at the local food pantry hoping for a bag of groceries than there seemed to be just a few years ago.

A part of what bothers me is the cynicism that seems to surround these issues.
Do we really believe people are hungry because they are lazy.
Or, poor because they don’t want to work.
Do we really believe that all they are looking for is a handout?
Or, a way to take advantage of the rest of us?
I am sure there are some people like that.
Some people who receive food stamps.
Some people who refuse a job because they don’t want to work.
Some people who will do what they can to take advantage of the system.
But I can’t believe that is most of the people who are hungry or poor.
And, there are certainly some bankers and lawyers and politicians and clergy…
Some people in every profession who are lazy and who take advantage of the system.

My experience is that most people want to provide for their families.
And, most people want to make a difference.
And, most people want to work in a job that has a level of dignity and a decent wage.
And, most people do not think it is right for children to go to school or to go to bed hungry. And, most people, when they come face to face with hunger or poverty discover that those who are hungry or poor are human beings not all that different than themselves. If that is the case, why do we have such a hard time talking about these issues civilly and treating those who find themselves in need as human beings deserving of respect and a level of understanding?

Is it just the way the news is reported?
Or, just the current partisanship in the political process?
I don’t know.
What I do know is the America represented by the headlines in the news and the current political gamesmanship is not the America I know. The America I know cares about about its neighbors and does what it can to help.  The America I know cares about children and, for the most part, works hard at whatever job it has.  There are problems, yes.  But, if we start from the vantage point of the America which I know and not the America of the headlines in the news, there has to be a way we can figure this out together.