welfare and deloria.

I have always had a problem accepting that a day is only 24 hours long, and that my body legitimate needs to sleep a fair portion of those hours away.  I just don’t understand how one can seriously fit the utmost rewarding days in those many hours.  I wake up early to get a workout in for my own health, but I’m also expected to work an 8 hour work day and find time for meals the middle.  However, I hate being cooped up inside and I don’t like fast food, so I find myself craving to be outside as soon as I get home – and spending extra time getting adequate meals.  I also have a number of activities I enjoy doing like dance and sports and even just going to the beach or trying out a new place in town.  Well, how can I do all of these things and still find time to read books and write and draw and…play with my cats?  I’m thinking about starting a petition to make the days longer.

All of those things fall under the definition of welfare.  Welfare includes health, safety, happiness, and prosperity.  I looked up the definition when I finally got a minute to continue reading Custer Died for Your Sins by Vine Deloria, Jr.  He’s a humorous and rather crude writer who, in this particular chapter, takes time to blame Pilgrim society for our welfare problems and stereotypes.  Welfare, as in the government program.  And I got to thinking, wow – I can’t imagine what I would be doing with my time if I didn’t work…except, just kidding.  First of all, I’d be constantly looking for work.  Second, I never have nothing to do.  There’s always something!  Always a book to read, a movie to watch, or inspiration to draw or run or…yeah, you get the point.

But then Deloria makes a somewhat convicting point.  I definitely do think of people on welfare as being sloths.  I know I shouldn’t generalize, but when I think of welfare I just think of people trying to take advantage of the system and live reckless lives at others’ expenses.  I’m just going to share a couple paragraphs by Vine:

 

          There is basically nothing real about our economic system.  It is neither good nor bad, but neutral.  Only when we place connotations on it and use it to manipulate people does it become a thing in itself.
Our welfare system demonstrates better than anything else the means to which uncritical white economics can be used.  We have all types of welfare programs: old age, disability, aid to dependent children, orphanages, and unemployment.  There is continual controversy in the halls of Congress, state legislatures, and city halls over the welfare programs.
Conservatives insist that those receiving welfare are lazy and are getting a free ride at the expense of hard-working citizens.  Liberals insist that all citizens have a basic right to life and that it is the government’s responsibility to provide for those unable to provide for themselves.
What are we really saying?
Welfare is based upon the norm set up by the Puritans long ago.  A man is define as a white, Anglo-Saxon Protestant, healthy, ambitious, earnest, and honest, a man whom the Lord smiles upon by increasing the fruits of his labor.  Welfare is designed to compensate people insofar as they deviate from that norm.  Insofar as a woman has an illegitimate child, she receives compensation.  Insofar as a man is disabled, he receives compensation.  Insofar as a person is too old to work, he receives compensation.
Welfare buys that portion of a person which does not match the stereotype of the real man.  Welfare payments are never sufficient, never adequate.  This is because each person bears some relation to the norm and in proportion to their resemblance, they receive less.

 

After reading this section, it struck me that old Christian ideals are really what we use to define “welfare”.  Even the government is giving handouts based on those same ideals and expectations.  Since these ideals and our democratic society define welfare and happiness, etc., as being able to afford a place to live, food to eat, clothes to wear,…  We’re expected to fit into roles and family molds, so when a piece is broken and it doesn’t quite fit anymore, the government tries to patch it up.  We’re not really given a choice on how to live.  (Maybe the one exception to that is the guy that quit ordinary life to live in a cave in Moab, but I think even he has since been shut down by some loophole the government devised.)  And it’s not surprise to me that Vine is particularly aggressive against this concept of welfare.  I mean, he’s a Sioux writer and avidly denounces any and every remnant of American efforts for Indian assimilation and termination of the reservations.  He wrote this book at the end of the Termination Era and during the Civil Rights movement for blacks, so I’d say his candidness is highly justifiable.

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A famous quote by Vine Deloria, Jr.

That candidness is what causes me to love Deloria and what causes others (especially close-minded whites) to really hate him.  He has a knack for conviction and also for pounding accusatory points home.  When the points he make align with your beliefs or the ones you get from reading what he writes, then you can hardly refrain from putting your hands up and shouting

PREACH!  th (yes, that did just happen)

But he also has a tendency to totally call you out on things, like my outlook on welfare apparently aligning with a conservative mindset and his shedding light on my subconscious acceptance of the Christian perspective of welfare and success.

Ahh…and I’ve feel like I’ve done it yet again.  I tend to do this to myself, to branch out and read convicting things that sort of knock me flat and question everything I’ve come to know.  Then that leaves me trying to sort out what’s the right way to go.  I’ve already had a sense that “ordinary” life is contrived, and I’m sure that contributes to my running around like a fool trying to live it to its best and fullest, but now…now I can question my efforts all over again, from a refreshed base.  Which won’t be as hard to do if I can convince this Puritan government to accept my petition and tack on a few more hours to this ancient 24-hour-day concept.

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