Erev Yom Kippur

Had a good dinner tonight including Artichoke Chicken, Mashed Potatoes, Roasted Vegetables and a salad. Dessert was a individual brownie with Ice cream. The brownie was unfortunately overcooked, but still OK. It is hard to compete with the Ghirardelli boxed brownie mix.

We watched the Steven S. Wise Erev Yom Kippur service via Youtube. They did a phenomenal job on message and production. Rabbi Ron Stern’s sermon was a direct call out on the failings of President Trump without ever naming him. He called out five items that we need to do to bring our country back from the challenges we face:

  1. We recognize that it is a collective task – Only by working together can we achieve big tasks. It is not us against them, it is us against the problem.
  2. We are ready to truly listen – In order to be us against the problem, we have to truly listen to each other and understand the problems that face us. We must listen to those most affected and those most knowledgeable.
  3. We embrace and explore nuance – We face serious problems that require serious solutions. Trying to characterize the problem by an outlier divides us. Our issues are complex and sweeping. They must be addressed at multiple levels and reassessed regularly to make changes as needed. There is not one solution that fits all and not all mistakes indicate failure.
  4. We are dedicated to finding common ground – As a people, we share most of our desires. We want opportunity to succeed, a happy life for ourselves and a better life for our children. Many of the issues that divide us we are not actually that far apart from each other.
  5. We recognize the good in other – As a whole, we are a good people that want to accomplish their dreams and make a better world.

After the sermon, we got into talking politics and my father-in-law asked me how I felt about a 25 year old who refused to get a job and existed on the government dime. Was I resentful that I worked my ass off to get where I was and my tax money was going to fund this person. Shouldn’t they have to work the same as me to get ahead?

Is there a small percentage of people who abuse that system? yes. There are those who abuse their employers in much the same way by doing shoddy work, stealing or committing other offenses. There are those that abuse their family members kindness. These types of people need to be held accountable for their decisions and, where possible, educated to do other things.

I do not resent them. I’m not resentful of that young man. I may pity him some, but otherwise I don’t think about that person and how they may exist off of tax money we pay. I think of the sheer amount of people that welfare, SNAP, school lunches, pell grants and other social components have helped to get ahead.

The question itself is an example of forgetting all five things put forth by the Rabbi.

  1. This young man is a member of our American community and he has both a responsibility to us as we do to him. He should be held accountable for his actions and we need to be held accountable to providing training for him.
  2. Did we really listen to what he was saying. Perhaps he truly is disabled and the Judge Judy show was trying to be entertaining and divisive
  3. Where is the nuance in discovering the truth of the story and the potential for a solution. Is it a breakdown of the system, the person, the community or something else?
  4. Was there an attempt to find common ground with the person to move forward. Did they live in a small town that had no work for someone with his disability? Another mitigating factor? Did working a job jeopardize his access to needed healthcare? Perhaps there is a need to change the system or accept the results of the system that was built even if they aren’t perfect
  5. Was this a good man or a bad man? Start with the premise that he is a man and he does want to do good. Until proven otherwise, go with that.

I don’t resent this man, because I don’t truly know his situation. Republicans have spent decades trying to convince us that Welfare Queens existed and are extorting money from the hardworking American. Because there were a few bad apples, the entire thing had to go.

What do I resent? I resent the reliance of corporations on government money going to working families because the family can’t live on the wage they are given. Is this not the definition of corporate welfare. I resent the fact that many families are bankrupted by medical bills that are no fault of their own. I resent that hard work alone is no longer sufficient to raise a family. I resent that Americans have been convinced that taxation is evil because it is exploited by some massive conspiracy of the poor. Listen to our community, understand the nuance, find common ground and think that people try to be good.