Last night I had something strange happen to me. We got a call from the local Rotary club letting us know that our youngest son had been chosen to receive $100 dollars worth of free clothes. Apparently once a year they go through the list of children who receive free and reduced lunches at the local schools. They then randomly select fifty children to receive the clothing. While very nice of the Rotary club, I did not feel like we had hit the lottery. I wasn't thinking "alright, finally I get my free stuff." I am incredibly thankful for what the Rotary club did. Our child did need some clothing but there was nothing about this event which felt like Christmas. In fact the whole experience made me a bit sick to my stomach. It made me feel like a failure.
Most people do not like to be in positions where they are not able to fully take care of themselves or their loved ones. I personally hate it. I am not a lazy person. I did not choose to get into a financial situation where we need help, nevertheless this is still the position which I find myself in. I got sick and lost a year. Once I got healthy my son was diagnosed with cancer. I had to stay home and take care of him. He needed twenty-four hour care and nobody was going to pay for a nurse, so the hospital trained me to do the job. Our children were placed on Medicare to take care of the immeasurable amounts of money it was going to take in order to save our son (I have blogged about this before so I won't go into too much detail here.) We also racked up a lot of debt from dealing with tons of hidden expenses which came along with the diagnosis of the cancer, the treatment, and the recovery.
Once our son was placed on medicare we were really placed in a terrible situation. I wanted to go back to work, but as a former preacher, with a youth ministry degree, who was having a faith crisis, my job options were very limited. I was offered a few positions doing menial labor (which while not ideal would have been fine), but the pay was so low that to take the job would give us enough money to be kicked off of Medicare, but not enough money to be able to pay for the insurance we would need to make sure our son stayed cancer free. He requires frequent check ups as there is always a chance the cancer could return. It was actually financially better for us if I did not go back to work, so I went back to school to get a second degree (one which will be more marketable). Once I go back to work I will be happy to pay for my children's insurance, but right now, I can't. I need help.
I voted for Obama not because I want free stuff, but because I have been in places where I was not able to do it on my own. In those times I needed help. I am so thankful there were policies in place to help my family and I. I am doing everything I can to get our family to a point where we will no longer need any assistance. I will graduate in a year and a half and I plan to go immediately back to work. When that time comes I will be more than happy to pay for my family. I will also be more than happy to even pay a little bit more in taxes to make sure other people get the help they need in times of trouble. This seems only right and fair to me. There may come a time where you will find yourself needing help as well. I voted for Obama because if that time comes I want to make sure you and your family have all the help and support you need.
This election was not about free stuff, for me it was about caring for your fellow people (women, men, children.) The very best way to do this is for us all to pitch in and help out. There is something wrong in our country when we we praise people who squirrel away millions and billions of dollars made on the backs of the poor and then when those same poor people need help we make fun of them, call them lazy, and say they just want a hand out. They do not want a hand out, they simply want enough to know they will be okay. Let us not attack the poor. Instead let us take a lead from the Jesus so many Republicans claim to follow and "not store up for ourselves treasures on earth." It is evil for some to have billions and others to work just as hard and not be able to make it each month, Some people need to sacrifice a little to make sure we are all okay. As Gandhi said, "there is enough for everyone's need, but not for everyone's greed." This is why I voted for Obama. This election was not about free stuff, it was about fairness, equality, and making sure all people get the help they need when times are tough.