If you lost your job and were about to lose your house, but the government welfare program was sufficient to make your house payment for a couple months, would you accept the help?  There seem to be two extremes: some people won’t accept any help, because it hurts their pride, and because they don’t want to give the government even the smallest foothold in their lives; others chase all the help they can get out of a sense of entitlement, or a simple lack of desire to work.

The government exists to make the country a safe place for its citizens to live and thrive.  The government has an obligation to provide for national security, for the unencumbered flow of trade, and to promote an environment conducive to the general welfare of its people.  But does the government have an obligation to provide monetary assistance to individuals?  It is my belief that the government does NOT have such an obligation.  The people are to provide for themselves; and when they are unable, assistance should come from family, neighbors, and churches.  Nevertheless, assistance from the government is available.

If you are in a position of requiring assistance, please, do not hesitate to get all the help you can.  Do not let pride prevent you from keeping food on the table.  The assistance may be just enough to carry you along until the next job offer.  But understand this: if you are of able mind and body, you are obliged to provide for yourself and your family.  When you’re down on your luck, make use of the help, but get back on your feet.  To continue receiving welfare assistance when the assistance is no longer necessary is dishonest and immoral.

On the other hand, if you are not in a position of requiring assistance, please do not hesitate to offer assistance to anyone who needs it.  God has blessed you with what you have, and he may want to bless you further through the help you offer to others.  And understand this: not everyone needing help is a deadbeat.  Some people really are just down on their luck.  The more we assist those in need, and encourage our churches to do the same, the less government assistance will be necessary.  Ideally, if we were all doing the right thing, our government would not have to step in.

In the past I have taken advantage of welfare, food stamps, WIC, and unemployment benefits.  I admit I had a difficult time swallowing my pride, but I sure am glad the safety net was available.  In addition, we had a strong social network that helped provide for our temporary needs.  And although I’m glad the help was available, I’m also glad that I no longer need it.  As much fun as it is to receive assistance, it’s much more fun to provide it.  Look around you.  Who can you help?

This article originally appeard in the June 18, 2008, edition of the Greenhorn Valley View.


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