Welfare Reform, Prison Reform, or God Reform?
I was thinking about “welfare” today. As it exists in the United States, of course. I looked up some statistics.
Money spent on Welfare in the U.S. was “$1.03 trillion on 83 means-tested federal welfare programs in fiscal year 2011 alone,” according to Read more:
It also seems that if one forsakes the normal systems entirely, and lives on the streets, asking only what each individual person has in their heart or ability to share, it is still not acceptable. To highlight this point Mormon Bishop David Musselman disguised himself as a homeless person and entered a Sunday service. The congregation was less than welcoming. In the U.S. alone, there are 600,000+ homeless…although statistics seem to show that number is dropping. Read more:
Money spent on prisons in the U. S. was about $74 billion a year, and makes the U.S. have the largest incarceration rate in the world, according to —— and other sources, and “The US has the highest incarceration rate in the world not because it has higher crime rates, but because it imprisons more types of criminal offenders, including non-violent and drug offenders, and keeps them in prison longer.” Read more:
While the financial numbers are disparate, to be sure, isn’t a LOT a lot? It occurred to me that Progressives and Conservatives alike are providing “Welfare” but simply calling it something that agrees with the way they believe human society should function. Some consider that we are “our brother’s keeper”, and others believe in “an eye for an eye”. And while I am well aware that I am speaking primarily of my knowledge of America, I am not ignorant of caning and stoning and inhumane prison conditions in the rest of the world.
My question is this…Why is the thought of directly helping people so abhorrent that we have to create a world in which we virtually demand that people commit a crime, or beg, in order to be taken care of? Do we continue to create more and more poverty so that the rich can feel superior, and vindicated by giving to people made to beg in some way? Is this the accepted way of giving and receiving among us these days?
As CWG states, all attack is a cry for help. Why don’t we, as a world for the most part, see that “criminals” are, at their root cause, asking for help? Aaahh, that might be the crux, might it not? Who/what benefits from the current system? Might it be the private prison system, that is incentivized by states guaranteeing a certain number of prisoners? Might it be a current political clime that operates under a fear and power paradigm? Maybe.
These “criminals” are part of a much larger picture. How is it that their cries for help, from a very young age, and culturally, have been ignored? Is it possible that our cultures come from our understandings of how God treats us? Is it possible that a God who will punish with eternal damnation will also ask us to “spare the rod, spoil the child”? Operate under the “eye for an eye” model? Obviously, for many.
What creates the need for a welfare system of any kind? What kinds of government and corporate structures reinforce the paradigm?
Is it also possible that the conflict within humanity at this time knows that we are all One, and that we should take care of one another, with no condition, but is pulled by all around us to act within the punishment paradigm? What might that marriage of those conflicting thoughts produce? To me, it produces prisons. It produces people who believe they have to be bad, and forgiven, to be given succor, and community. It produces a system of Prison as Welfare.
I believe it is time to begin reforming God, not reforming prisons or the welfare system.
It is time, to look at the duality of our belief system that at once says that we have a punishing God, and a Loving God in the same breath.
Which is it?
It is, and of course, as always, up to us to decide. Up to you, and to me, to Be the change we wish to see. It is time to be honest enough with ourselves to notice whether or not this duality feels true to us. It is time to be brave enough to admit it to ourselves if it does not.
I know how difficult this can be. I used to have what I call “half completed sentence” dialogs with myself….”if God really is all loving, how could he…? If I really am created in the image and likeness of God, why am I…?” Stop that thought! If I didn’t compete it, I hadn’t fully sinned! More accurately, if I didn’t complete it, I wouldn’t have to do anything about it, and risk angering and/or disappointing others. I wouldn’t lose what I had, even though I knew instinctively it wasn’t working.
When the circle of thought brings us back to ourselves, what does that mean in terms of everyday life? I believe it means it is time to notice, within ourselves, if we are angry and sad and reach out for someone to help us understand. I believe it is time to notice those around us who seem to be struggling to find a place in this world, and be there for them. To hear their unvoiced cries for help. I believe it is time to consider that God does not ask us to beg…but does ask us to understand one another, and I most fervently believe that Goddess asks us to know that the greatest joy in life comes from giving, with full and open heart and soul, to others. Indeed, I believe this is all we are here for. Reform God, and we just may not have any need to have people begging, in any form, for what it takes to live in this world, and we just may reform it all.
How are you “reforming” God?