Did I happen to mention I am back in school? Yup. I am friggin' fifty years old and a student again! As if I didn't have enough on my plate already. It's a challenge and God knows, I love a challenge.
I always enjoy meeting new people and I'm simply amazed at the strength, the drive, and the resilience of some of the students in my classes. They come from all different walks of life and a few of them have had a rough ride. Really rough. I'm the oldest (of course) and I can't help but act like a "Mother Hen"--gently clucking about and making sure they have everything they need: paper, pens, bus fare, lunch, a warm coat, gloves. I listen to their problems and offer advice. A couple of the girls have babies and they proudly show me photos.
I am so humbled when some of these beautiful young ladies share details of their lives with me. I think I have problems. I don't know problems. When I was their age, my biggest concern was whether to follow my boyfriend to college in Chicago or pick a different school. I had so many choices back then and Daddy was paying the bill. I wasn't single and pregnant, disowned by my family, or living in a little room in the bad part of town with nothing more than a hot plate and a futon. I didn't have to wonder how the hell I was going to care for alcoholic parents, attend school full time and work full-time. I didn't agonize over homework while trying to soothe a screaming infant. These girls worry about all that stuff and a whole lot more!
It's costing me an awful lot of money to go back to school. Some of the girls in my classes are funded by the state. What does that mean? Your tax dollars and mine are giving women an opportunity they could never afford on their own. Girls who might remain trapped in the system and cycle of welfare for years if not given this chance to improve their lives. I know I am going to step on some toes here and I very rarely discuss stuff like this. You might be angry because you work hard but can't afford to send your kids to the school of their choice yet these girls get to go for free. I hear stuff like that all the time. Some of you complain about welfare, food stamps, government programs and ENTITLEMENT mentalities. But these girls; they are grateful. They're working their asses off so they can kiss Social Services and Public Assistance goodbye forever. There's not an entitled one in the bunch! I am honored and blessed to sit beside them in class.
These girls thank God every day for public assistance and programs because without them, they might be homeless, hungry, unable to raise their children, and hopeless about their future or securing a better life for themselves and their families. Every single one of them is dead serious in class. They want it all: careers, homes, marriage, family- things that most of us take for granted. Some of them have to use public transportation to get to school on time. One lovely eighteen year old girl puts her daughter in a stroller at 5AM every morning, bundles her up in coats and blankets, and walks in the bitter cold to drop her off at day care. After her daughter is settled, she walks to the train station and takes a train and two buses to get to class. After school, she does the reverse. She cooks dinner and bathes and plays with her daughter for an hour two before putting her back in the stroller to walk to the babysitter's house. Then, she hops on a bus to her night job at Burger King. When her shift is over, she's back on the bus again to pick up her child, she walks home, gives the baby a warm bottle, and puts her to bed. Somehow, in the midst of her hectic schedule, she manages to find time to study and maintain above average grades in her classes.
Does she get food stamps? Yes.
Does she get some assistance so she can afford to keep a roof over her head and her child safe and warm? Yes.
Is she a lazy girl who refuses to work and expects me and you to support her and her child?
I DON'T THINK SO!!!
Would you believe some people actually have the audacity to accuse her of such because she receives financial assistance, food stamps and a housing allowance! Good, hard-working, Christian people!
I've never met a more dedicated girl in my life! She's alone. She has no family and she's only eighteen! How many girls her age do you know with such drive and determination?
This girl is going to be a success. I KNOW IT! Guess what else I know? We will most likely never hear about it or any other success stories about women and men like her. Instead we will continously hear about the awful, greedy, lazy people who abuse the system at our expense!
My observation: the ones who can afford to pay are the lazy ones. They are spoiled young girls who don't give a darn if they pass or fail. They are wasting time and mommy and daddy's money fooling around all day. They arrive to class late or unprepared time and time again yet they demand special favors and ultimately expect good grades!
I hear constant complaints about welfare, food stamps and all these government funded programs that take from honest, God-fearing, hard-working people and give to those who expect it but don't really appreciate it. Perhaps we really need to take a good look at the other side! It's so easy sit in our big houses with our pantries overflowing with food and our take-out Chinese dinners because we're just too tired to cook. We listen to politicians and religious leaders talk about how our nation needs to turn back to God yet the majority of them strongly oppose programs that benefit the ones who need a touch from God the most: the sick, the hungry, the jobless, the homeless, the addicts and the young single mothers. In other words, the poor and needy!
To be fair, yes, there are those who abuse the system. People with no intention of working yet have one child after the next and expect us to fork over our hard earned cash to feed them. I hate that just as much as you do, but I think those kinds of people are the minority and not the majority. I believe most of them are just like you and me and some of these girls I've met in school-- hard-working, determined, appreciative. Perhaps they've made a mistake or two or had a stroke of bad luck. Now they just need a bit of assistance to get back on the right path.
I have no desire to sit here and pontificate just because I've rubbed elbows recently with few different types of people. The experience is teaching me, however, that my personal convictions, what I fight for, and how I vote are right--at least for me. Most of the people I know (myself included) have no idea what it means to really struggle. We might complain because we've had to cut back on fancy dinners, movies and shows. We choose to drink at home more often rather than going out on the weekends. Some of us have had to downsize to smaller homes or trade in our expensive cars with the hefty payments for more affordable vehicles. But that's not really struggling. It's inconvenient and there's a big difference between the two! We still have too much and I know I should be giving more of what I have to those in need. Maybe we all need to spend a little time in the trenches to see how life looks down there. Before we start cutting programs or accusing others of having an entitlement mentality, perhaps we should get to know a few people who are actually fighting to keep their heads above water and need a little public assistance. They're just like you and me. They just don't know how they are going to feed their children or heat their homes. Sometimes, all they need is a little break. Honestly, how many of us would be where we are now if we hadn't been given a break of some kind? That's right. Someone gave us break, a chance, a loan, a job, an opportunity, or a helping hand. Thank God!
And speaking of God..............
Why is it that those working so hard to turn our nation back to God are also the very same ones in favor of cutting funding and government programs? They're against food stamps and free school lunches! Yet their kids can afford to buy lunch every single day. How can you expect people to turn to God when you refuse to feed them, clothe them, or provide shelter for them?
Even Jesus made sure his followers were fed!
In a perfect world, no one would be hungry, poor, homeless or jobless. Everyone would have what they need because of the generosity of others. But this is not a perfect world and most of us are not generous. We're greedy. Yep. Christians, too. That is why we need all these programs in the first place.
"If you don't work, you don't eat!"
"God helps those who help themselves!"
"If people are hungry or homeless or jobless, it's their own fault because they're lazy."
I hear statements like these all the time. Even people I know personally say them and believe them!. Some claim to be followers of Christ and are diligently praying for our nation to turn back to God. Which God? Their God? My God? Or the God of the sweet little Islamic girl I sit behind in class?
I say, "Get real!"
Turning the nation back to God is not the answer! .
God in us is the answer!
When we love and give freely without judgement, we are God's hands extended!
Jesus fed the poor and hungry when He was here on earth. Multitudes followed Him, hoping to be fed. He didn't stop to ask, "Did you work today?" before handing out the bread and fish.
- Cynthia Parrott
I see God all over the place as I sit in class every day with people who would never be there if the opportunity had not been not given to them! Take away those opportunities and we take away God.
I will leave you with this:
Thanks for letting me vent.
And this is my Daily Cyn......