Grant them the dignity


When did the War on Poverty become a war against poor people?

Growing up, I remember being taught that poverty is no disgrace. My own experience has taught me that it is no great honor, either.

So whither all this sudden vitriol directed toward poor people?

Florida put in a requirement that food stamp recipients had to take a drug test. Less than 1/10 of 1 percent tested positive.

That is less drug use than in the general population. When you see someone buying some thing you don’t think they deserve to have, do you ever wonder how they can manage to do that?

Did they scrimp for a week to buy a birthday cake? Did they eat at another family member’s home, and used the last of their stamps to return the favor?

Is it really any of your business? Food stamps have historically been bundled into the same bill as the farm subsidies.

Audits have shown a 3 percent overpayment rate in the food stamp program, and a 20 percent rate of overpayment in the farm subsidies.

So who is really ripping you off?

The vast majority of those who receive food stamps are working poor, children and the disabled. Yet so many choose to believe that they are moochers, drug addicts, the scum of the earth.

No matter what they tell you, no one enjoys poverty. The worst is the feeling that everyone in the world is wealthy except you.

Working hard and doing your very best, but being unable to provide your children what they need grinds a feeling of sadness and inadequacy into one’s very soul.

Now we suddenly have those who, secure in their own wealth, have decided that the poor are so because they are undeserving.

Even worse, they genuinely believe that they themselves are better off because they deserve to be. So sad. Whatever happened to, “There, but for the grace of God.”

I realize that not everyone is a Christian, but surely those who are must be aware that they will have to stand before the lord and bear the shame for the way they treated “the least of these.”

If you were born into a family that could afford to help you through college, or if your parents knew someone who could give you a good job, or if you married a person from a “good” family, then you may not understand those for whom life is a daily struggle.

Most noticeable in today’s political scene is a curious lack of empathy for those in different circumstances. When congress voted in the “sequester,” every department had to take a 5 percent pay cut. Do you remember all the whining because the White House tours were canceled?

Seriously? White House tours?

What about the cuts to education, head start, medical research, food inspectors, border security?

Yet our esteemed lawmakers moved their wealthy butts only when the air traffic control cuts were going to (GASP) delay their flights to their home districts. (Or wherever).

They cheerfully chose to leave all the other sequester cuts in place. And there was no outrage. How can anyone claim to love America, yet hate so many Americans?

If you can’t bring yourself to imagine being in a poor person’s shoes, at least, please try to grant them the dignity that is due to all of our fellows.

Lola Johnson