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Essay: Welfare Is Not Charity

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  • Essay: Welfare Is Not Charity

    I originally wrote this on my blog back in 2011. I'm posting my writings on my blog at Admin Edit: Link removed -- I'd greatly appreciate any follow/comment/discussion on my writings there -- build a readership. The ad that you will soon see for Admin Edit: Link removed
    -- makes me a commission, as well as the hostgator affiliate banner that I hope to have there. All the money I get will be used to fund research to my undergrad senior thesis/capstone project -- which is taking shape on the blog post there under -- "Science, that is about "Terraponics".

    Hopefully this essay sparks some good discussion and helps make this forum into a viable, lively discussions with deep thought and actual research and learning like some forums that I used to know -- and not just people posting their "opinions". I have to say that compared to others, the quality of intellectual thought here overall ranks about a 2 out of 10. Not because people aren't smart enough, but because they don't care enough.

    Here it is


    The consciousness of self-pity underlies the welfare state.

    In the consciousness of self-pity, people project their own problems, and their own self-sympathy, onto others. This creates a false sense of a problem that must be relieved, whether that problem be low education, or low levels of material wealth. This projection then becomes overlaid over the reality of the situation, which is always multifaceted. Real solutions are then undermined, because they may or may not conform to the perceptions of the welfare state, and its false perceptions.
    What if 15%, or 50% or 90% of welfare recipients, didn’t really, truly, need financial assistance? What if their true needs lay elsewhere? Any attempt to discontinue financial assistance, and to finally address the true cause and core of these issues, would be viewed by welfare advocates as being heartless, or what have you. The welfare consciousness, then, is a mechanistic projection based on self-pity and materialistic values.

    What this means is three-fold:

    It is materialistic in that people who place the highest of importance on material well-being, then look at people who do not have this oh-so-valued material well-being, and proceed to feel sorry for them. They then say “look at these poor people? Who is going to help “the poor”?
    (however “the poor” is defined. I am confident that people from say, India, would disagree with most American’s definition of poor)?
    A false problem is created.

    What if financial assistance is not what many of these people really need? What is material well-being is only one of many, many important things in life? What if high levels of material well-being is not even that important, from certain perspectives? What if material well-being is not a “right” as some people believe, but a luxury of life that is hard earned?

    What if the most valuable thing that could be given to most of “the poor” is not a welfare check, but something completely different? What if that thing differs from person to person, and from situation to situation?
    What if there are far, far more dimensions and facets of poverty, than mere material well-being?

    What if focusing on material well-being can reach a point where it becomes counter-productive altogether?

    What if looking at and categorizing other people who lack the same material means as “the poor” does more harm emotionally, mentally, and spiritually — than any lack of a welfare check ever could?

    What if the problem of poverty is largely self-created, because of the extreme over-emphasis on material means as the answer to the question “what is poverty and what is wealth?”.

    Regardless of the above musings, when you have enough people lamenting all of “the poor”, and enough of “the poor” steeped in self-pity, because they do not have what “the rich” have, the “problem” of “the poor” becomes greater and greater, until it because a political issue that is on everyone’s mind.

    Now, we have the genuine recognition that there are people in need, conflated with the false projection that what “the poor people” need … is a welfare check. Furthermore, we have the reality that what constitutes someone being categorized as “the poor” is purely relative.

    By addressing “the poor” based on a criteria and categorization, the real cause and core of the issue is lost. In other words, someone may be classified as “poor” and thus, according to the welfare consciousness, in need of a welfare check. When in reality, that person may be spiritually poor, and in need of a real inspiration. Or who knows.
    In reality, some people are genuinely in need of material assistance — they are in abject poverty, with little foundation with which to make a life for themselves. However, another person may simply be lazy — a common trait in developed countries, who consider a 50 hour work week, and not having a flat screen TV to be a hard life.

    Some might lack the necessary basic education. Some people may lack inspiration, or lack an example, a role-model, to follow. Another person might be in poverty because they feel lost and alone in the world, and thus lack motivation to do much of anything.

    While academics debate about abstract metrics such as Economic Mobility, and others lament “the poor”, real understanding of the cause and core of people’s problems in the world gets lost in the dark. Truly understanding poverty is not an academic subject, because it is different for each person, different for each community, and different for each country. It is a topic that requires wisdom, and this wisdom can only come through charity, hands on experience, and a heart-to-heart, individual-to-individual approach.

    The welfare consciousness is mechanistic, in that when people talk about things like a “system” or a “safety net” to take care of “the poor”, what is really being talked about is something that is divorced from the recognition that real charity and compassion is only possible on a case by case basis, and only doable through an individual-to-individual means, and only workable with a heart-to-heart attitude. In other words, talking about a “welfare system” is trying to find something else and someone else to take care of “the problem”, so that I, me, the individual, doesn’t have to.

    The fatal flaw of this is that it puts the cart before the horse, and kills the goose that lays the golden eggs. Supposedly, this welfare system is needed to help “the poor”, because if “it” didn’t help them, then who would? I mean, look at all the greed in the world.

    Well, in order for there to be a democratic welfare system, this presupposes that there is a nation of people, the majority of whom agree, that there should be something done to help those in need. And if “the system” didn’t take care of it, what would?

    Yet, if such a nation did exist, then the argument that “if the government didn’t help them, nobody would” is moot to begin with, because those very same people who agree that something should be done, would then seek alternative means helping the needy. Or at least, hopefully, they would be.

    It is putting the cart before the horse, because instead of asking “what should be done?” or “how should they system work?”, the question should be “why are there not more charitable people in the world?”

    In my experience, the debate is so heavily centered around the questions “what should be done”, or “how should ‘the system’ be changed”, that it would seem that many of these people act as though they believe that merely answering this question, or “getting the formula” right, will solve the problem in of itself.

    Yet the real question, and the real solution, is “why are there not more charitable people?” and “how can we empower such people, so that they affect positive change?”
    It is putting the cart before the horse, because charitable people are the cause and driver, and when you have enough of these people, and more importantly, an environment of freedom for them to experiment, work, learn — and give … then the other questions like “what should be done”, fall into place. Questions like “how should the system work”, become diminished, or moot altogether.

    The mechanistic aspect of the welfare program serves to kill the goose that lays the golden eggs, because the more and more people become dependent on “the system” or “the government” or politicians with big speeches and promises, the more defunct they, as individuals, become — emotionally,
    mentally, and spiritually.

    Thirdly and finally,
    What we need are more examples of real charity at work that people can look up to. We need people promoting these real-life examples, rather than sitting around in self-pity. They may be feeling sorry for “the poor people”, but when you sit around, sorry for all the people who do not have the same level of well-being that you do, you are not accomplishing anything, other than — perhaps — feeling sorry for yourself … by imagining yourself in the other person’s shoes.

    This might seem like not a big deal, but nevertheless, it is something that blinds and distracts people from what is really needed in each situations. As has been said before in this essay, what is truly needed is different in each situation. Only individuals, organizations, and communities, that have a determination to deal with these issues hands-on, can contribute to progress.

    Sympathy lies between **** and syphilis in the dictionary, and it does not help problems to get better, because too much energy is spent on feeling bad, and doing nothing else. The problem is magnified in people’s minds, or in reality, and no real action takes place.

    The main problem with sympathy, and self-pity, is that it’s cheap, addictive, and easy, and accomplishes nothing. It’s easy to feel sorry. It’s easy to donate $25 to some organization, and say “there I helped”. Depending on where it was donated, those dollars may not even do any real good in getting to the cause and core of issues.
    Compassion and charity requires not only action, but learning and a striving for understanding as well.

    Charity is a work in progress, because no matter how advanced, there will always be those falling behind. Seeking to solve this with a formula or system is always doomed to failure, because at best, such an approach is a one-time band-aid.

    The welfare consciousness is based on a consciousness of utopia, where making sure that everyone has a certain level of material well-being is raised up to be not only some sort of great goal, but as some sort of supposed answer to many problems of society.

    In order for charity and compassion to flourish, a consciousness of empowerment must replace the welfare consciousness.
    Specifically, this means less and less emphasis on “the poor” and feeling sorry for one’s self and others, and a greater emphasis on finding, raising up, and supporting those individuals and communities who will serve as an example as to what can be accomplished when people are both free to make mistakes, as well as free to help others, through giving freely, overcome in life.

    This is a never ending process, and the sooner such issues can be realized as a valuable part of life, and not as some supposed barrier to some utopia, the more charity and compassion will take the reigns, blossoming in the hearts of individuals, one by one.
    As one example of charity at work:
    Admin Edit: Link removed

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    Admin Edit: Link removed