Sunday, September 13, 2015

I don't think it's too much to ask, so I don't think it's too much to give either.

Normally I wouldn't make a post out of a non-story comment from elsewhere, but I think I got to something that I never really properly put into words before with this one:
My answering machine was full so my normal means of screening phone calls didn't work. In addition, I thought it might be someone calling back. 
I ended up taking a political survey. One of the questions was something along the lines of "Do you support giving welfare dollars to [long string of politicalese]" 
Me "Um, that means refugees, right?" 
Person on the other end "I think it does, but I'm kind of confused on that too." 
Me "I support helping refugees." 
I'm guessing a lot of people don't have that answer because evil foreigners taking our money, but if things got so bad I had to flee my home (which I fucking love, flawed though it may be), and moreover do so without the resources to support myself wherever I ended up, I'd certainly like some help surviving. I don't think it's too much to ask, so I don't think it's too much to give either.
The last sentence is in many ways the part that really matters, which is why it's the title of the post, but the process leading to it is important too.

I don't approach the question as, "Someone is here, should we give them aid?" though honestly that would probably get the same answer unless there were extenuating circumstances (a billionaire wants us to 'aid' him with a tax cut.)

I approach it as: I'm driven from my home.  An infestation of evil bloodsucking insects has not driven me from my house.  The furnace breaking in the freezing season has not driven me from my house.  The universe kicking me when I'm down hasn't driven me from my house.

To drive me out of my house, out of Maine, and out of the US would mean things got really, really fucking bad on a level that I'd rather not imagine and it would break my fucking heart.

If I then ended up somewhere else (Canada is the obvious choice, but any other country) I'd rather not be homeless, hungry, with nothing but the clothes on my back, and possibly on the way to a lingering death because when I fled my home I wasn't able to bring the resources to care for myself with me and it'd be hard to fend for oneself in a foreign land when you've lost everything.

I think that if the people wherever I ended up didn't at least try to help me, in a manner that naturally takes into account the resources available to them, then they'd be assholes.

No one, that I know of, particularly wants a stranger in need of aid to show up at their doorstep.  But you try to help people.  That's the non-asshole way.

So, yeah, welfare should go to refugees.  If that takes away from people who need help that are native, then we aren't funding welfare enough.  The solution is to fix the funding, not take it from people who ought to have it.


Putting yourself in the position of another and imagining what it would be like isn't sufficient.  Not everyone is like you.  Not everyone can bear the things you can bear.  Not everyone has values that match your own.  But it's a fucking start.

So many people refuse to do it, though.


  1. That's a neat turn of phrase - "I don't think it's too much to ask, so I don't think it's too much to give either." I agree.

    (And geez, long string of politicalese that translates to "refugee" ... Orwell much?)

  2. I helped to sponsor a refugee family once. A church organized it, and they took monthly payments out of my bank account and paid them to the family until the parent could get on her feet and get a good job. I was making a lot of money back then, so I was able to give a fairly high contribution to the project. This is probably the best/most important thing I have ever done in my life.
    (Almost no one knows I did that. I should mention that to more people, so whoever eventually ends up doing my eulogy has something to talk about.)

  3. I grew up around refugees. Many are something close to adopted family. Some came as unaccompanied minors.

    Sometimes people are willing to help up til the point where they don't act like saintly angels, and they want to punish them for being as human as the rest of us.