Just last week, I got a note from someone asking how it is I don’t completely implode from the vitriol and ignorance and hatefulness that gets spewed on Facebook—she assumes I don’t implode—and I told her that I block those posts, or those posters, from my newsfeed. There is more to a person than politics, so by putting a wall between their offensive views and my sensitive disposition, I can still like the person for their other qualities without seeing them with warts and fangs. Besides, sometimes someone can have a differing opinion that isn’t based on ignorance. It’s just different.
But still, I know what she means. There are people who are just unpleasant and negative and arrogant, and they assume everyone else wants to know about their politics because they, of course, are right and point straight to the truth. Those people I don’t mind seeing as is, warts and all.
Otherwise—I’ve noticed lately that some of my friends “like” a post about requiring welfare recipients to be drug tested, and then that action appears on my newsfeed. Now I know which of my friends thinks that way, that poor people should be tested, I assume to prove they are deserving of food and shelter at public expense.
Instead of commenting on Facebook, I’ve decided to respond here. That way my opinions won’t automatically appear in front of people—people will have to actively choose to come here and read what I think.
So, here it is, what I think.
I think that drug testing is a form of searching, as in searching someone’s trunk during a traffic violation stop because you suspect they might have suspicious contraband locked up in there, or as in searching someone’s home because a judge has given you a warrant to look for something that might prove their guilt. We have laws governing how we can be searched so that law enforcement can’t just barge in or pull us over or strip us down for no reason.
What is it that poor people have done to suggest they are guilty of some crime, to justify our needing to search them? What is criminal about being in need and asking for public assistance?
I have known some very responsible, dignified and innocent people who have found themselves in need of public assistance. They are hardworking businessmen or women, church personnel, artists, people of all walks who have been downsized or aged out or just plain fired. So when they suddenly ask for public assistance, I do not understand why it is now acceptable for us to ask them to pee in a cup and to prove they don’t take drugs. We didn’t subject them to this indignity when they were financially self-sufficient.
And what of the welfare recipients who are mentally or physically disabled to the extent they can’t support themselves financially? Being born with a disability or being injured to great extent isn’t enough proof they are deserving of help? And then there are those with severe illnesses who couldn’t afford health insurance, and they have lost everything to cover their medical expenses. That’s just criminal, is it not?
If the issue here is that we are so tight with our public funds, then why don’t we campaign to test everyone who is paid from the general pool? Why aren’t my Facebook friends clamoring to test the governor or the kindergarten teachers or the guy who drives the big street sweeper?
If the issue is something else, if it’s that we generally don’t trust each other, and we especially don’t trust anyone who is weaker than the average, then we have a gaping, festering problem at our core, and it has nothing to do with drugs. It has everything to do with selfishness, vanity and greed.
My post here is full of questions because, honestly, this is a puzzle to me. This is especially a puzzle because so many of the people I know who support drug testing the poor are Christians. So here is another question—how does being suspicious of the poor and requiring them to prove their innocence simply because they are poor fit into the Gospel code of behavior?