passing judgment

i’ve noticed it lately, rolling around facebook.  it’s a new poll question ~ “do you think people on welfare should have mandatory drug tests?”  it appears as though most people answer overwhelmingly “yes”.

i am wondering how that ‘yes’ is determined.  everyone on welfare should be tested?  everyone?  how would we judge that?  are there certain behaviors we’d look for in an individual?  would it be based on where they live?  how they live?  if they’re single or married or divorced?  if they have children?  and if so, how many?  would they be judged as needing a drug test based on the color of their skin?  or their level of education?

who decides?  who judges?  based on the majority ‘yes’ answer to the poll question, most people who answered feel they’d be qualified to judge.

josh and i were on welfare for the past year. should we have been given drug tests?  who would be responsible for judging us?

without an official judgment, i felt judged every time i used my ohio direction card.   

it’s just like food stamps, only slightly more dignified.  or is it?  every time i pulled out my card at sam’s club, giant eagle, even aldi, someone, somewhere, was looking at me, passing judgment.

from looking at me, you wouldn’t guess i’d be on welfare.  i wasn’t dirty and unkempt.  i didn’t smell bad.  my car wasn’t falling apart, i wasn’t taking the bus.  by the grace of God, during our year of unemployment, we didn’t lose our home.  i was still able to bathe.  i kept the clothes i had before josh’s job loss.  i kept the jewelry too, and i wore it everyday ~ my engagement ring, my pearl bracelet, my pearl earrings.  i didn’t look like someone on welfare.  or did i?

welfare doesn’t have a look.  welfare has a need.  without that welfare assistance, we wouldn’t have been able to put food on the table at breakfast time or for dinner.  we wouldn’t have been able to pack our children’s lunch boxes or given them a snack after school.  without that welfare, we wouldn’t have been able to continue to make our house payment or pay our utility bills.  the ohio direction card freed up money to help maintain everything else in our world.

i am wondering if people knew that people like me were on welfare, if they’d still think people on welfare should have mandatory drug tests?  or maybe they’d have some compassion?  or maybe they’d  get some education on how the system works and who it helps?

i wonder what judgment would be passed on us.

One Comment

  • lisa

    I loved this Kirsten! When we were all welfare for a few months after Michael’s death, I felt the same. I would pull out my Ohio Direction Card and think who is watching me, what are they thinking, and ultimately who will I run into that I know. Your words are so true and amazing!

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