Friday, January 03, 2014

I've changed my mind

Exactly 6 years ago you would have pegged me as a red state conservative, Bush loving, Republican bot. It would have been easy to tell, based on Facebook rants (who thought we would even coin a term like that), and the sheer ignorance in which I spoke.  I thought the poor were lazy, and food stamps needed to be more shameful for users.  I thought people in poverty were there by their own choices.  I thought big business was the best idea, and that's what will lift people out of poverty. I thought only teenagers worked for minimum wage. I felt I was doing to poor a favor and would judge them out of poverty.  I thought if you needed help it was easy to get.  I thought that "cheating the system" was a way to live like a king. I wanted there to be more hoops for the people who needed help to jump through.  I thought if a person needed help it was a consequence of their own behavior.  I thought that people cheated the system for a living.  I even thought there shouldn't be welfare, but just let them eat cake.

Yes, this is how I lived.  I didn't care about the "fellow man," I certainly didn't care about social injustices. That was until I started looking around.  Because of my job, I was thrust into a seat at the table of the poor. I met person after person and heard story after story.  Their stories cut me to the core.  They gave me chills.  They forced me to see an alternative to my thoughts. They showed me just how hard it is to be in their situations.  They made me feel 2 inches tall.

I was at a chasm.  Do I continue to hold these beliefs, or do I accept people's testimonies?  Do I continue to turn my head, or do I look them straight in the eyes?  It was like God shined a light and I had to either put on sunglasses or see what He was showing me.

I chose to change my mind.  I chose to not judge a person.

What I've learned?  The system is extremely confusing.  It's not set up for emergencies.  If you need help because you lost your job.... stand in line and you'll get help in a month.  I found that people in poverty are some of the most loving and generous people I know.  I found that consequences are the reason people need help, but that it's not usually their's.  I learned that food stamps are not enough, and charity isn't either.  I learned that big business isn't pulling anyone out of poverty, and neither is the economy. I figured out why Jesus hung out with these people.  I learned that single mothers work for minimum wage.  I learned that what I thought was reality was republican rhetoric.  I learned that the poor were pawns of the democrats, and that neither party truly cares.

So are you saying you're a Democrat Broc?  No, I am not saying that at all.  I am saying that politics are less than humans.  Don't be jaded by a political party.  Don't let some guy in Washington tell you what reality is, experience it for yourself.  Look outside the fray, and you will find something that challenges the things you hold.  As Mother Teresa says, "Come and see."