Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Ruth and Boaz

So I'm sitting here at the computer, researching college financial aid options, and working on the job-market research Don needs in order to be awarded the WIA grant. We take turns sitting here like a tag team, which incidentally is pretty much how we live our entire lives now - as tag team partners in everything, from holding babies to making meals to bathing kids to finding jobs. Lately, Don hits all the job-search websites, and me the college aid sites; I've heard there are many grant and scholarship options out there, and if one puts in the time, it pays off. The up side of doing this now is that when our kids go to college, we'll know how to hunt down financial aid.

I see everyday that there are reasons our life has taken this turn. One big one that keeps coming to mind is the change of perspective it brings. A paradigm shift in fact, has occurred. Every bit of data that enters my brain lately has to now be processed through my new frame of reference, which explains all these public-policy posts. Bounce out now if you abhor thinking about public policy.

I was a political science major in college, mostly because I was engaged to an attorney and thought I wanted to be one. Although I've never used my degree, I do really love public policy. I changed my mind about becoming a lawyer in my third year of college, and it didn't make sense to change majors at that point. When I learned that my fiance cheated on his taxes, I dumped him. All respect was lost for him, as my eyes opened to all the evidence of his lack of character. I wanted no part of his shady world. He was very funny, which was the initial draw, when I met him at the gym; he was in the aerobics class I taught for a short time during college.

Anyhow, today Miss California was interviewed regarding her answer to the gay marriage question at the Miss America pageant - maybe you saw this tidbit on the news? Among other things, she was asked by the Fox News interviewer how she would have answered the banking question which another contestant was given, regarding the bailouts. Miss California, whose stomach I used to have (hope she enjoys it while she can) responded that she didn't believe we should be bailing out any banks. I agree with that, as does half the country. Then she added, of her own accord, that she doesn't think taxpayer money should go to welfare either.

Remember the story of Ruth and Boaz in the Bible? There was a social system in place that took care of the poor, in the form of stray grain left in the fields after harvest. Farmers weren't supposed to try to get every piece of grain, so that the poor could go through the field after the harvest and gather what was left for their tables. Trouble is, not all the farmers followed this practice. Some wanted to gather as much of the grain as they could, to get richer.

Boaz was a good man and he followed this rule, as well as the kinsman-redeemer rule, which is why he married Ruth, his distant relative, who had lost her husband.

Now, I have a very conservative non-Christian uncle who disdains all handouts - even hates social security, disability - any handout whatsoever. He thinks everybody should be wise, like him, and then they wouldn't get into any trouble. My answer - should I ever be given the chance to respond - is that God created the body of Christ to have different gifts. We're to use these respective gifts to build up the body (of Christ - fellow believers). Some have wisdom, some have faith, some can evangelize, some have the gift of helps, some have mercy, etc.

I have an aunt in Arizona in her eighties (this stern uncle's sister) who lives on $500/mo. Her trailer is paid for, but everything else comes from her meager income. Her $500 comes from social security, and my uncle doesn't think she should get it, because she didn't work the required number of quarters necessary to qualify. Now, I don't know how she got it or what the rules are; I think her family should be taking care of her (she has six kids). But they aren't. And you know what? Even though this uncle is fairly well off, he doesn't send my Arizona aunt money on any regular basis (maybe holidays). We sent her money occasionally when we were both working in Ca, but haven't had much to send since moving to Ohio.

It's all well and good (for Republicans) to say that families should take care of each other, but they don't always do this, and the elderly suffer, struggling single moms and their children suffer, veterans suffer, etc. Doesn't the government have to have a welfare system, since few follow what God says? The very people who turn their noses up at public assistance don't even help the poor in their own families!

The Bible says that it is easier for a camel to get through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to get to heaven. Being rich, or having plenty, robs a person of perspective. They began to believe that they are better than others. But it is God who decides who gets what (notwithstanding laziness), and getting plenty is not a blessing - unless one manages to still have perspective, despite the riches. Few are able to do this.

I would like to sit the very young (and Christian) Miss California down and take her around the country, to see how other young people her age grew up. Would she be so cold-hearted then, if she knew that the teenager in the neighboring state (on public assistance) got pregnant at 15 because her parents abused alcohol for years, and never met her emotional needs, or encouraged her in school?

There is another side to this. Some people abuse the help. And that has to be addressed through reform and constant evaluation, so self-sufficiency becomes the end result, rather than laziness. There are corrupt individuals at both ends of the spectrum, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't still set aside a portion of tax dollars to help the less fortunate. Helping the pregnant teenager with her self-esteem, through counseling, so she can meet a decent man, and helping her with job skills, so she can get a decent job, just makes sense. God commands that we do it.


Evenspor said...

There definitely needs to be a welfare system in place. It just needs balance and constant evaluation, like you say. It is pretty distressing that there are people who are so good at abusing the system, which takes away from people who really need it.

Margie said...

Hey Miss Pam! We actually talked about this in bible study on Tuesday morning. We are supposed to leave our gleanings for the poor to gather so that they can work and earn money. What would our gleanings look like in our various places in life? Interesting subject. I think the system the way it is now is definitely out of balance.