By Darryl James
America is a nation of conflicts and confusion.
For example, many people proclaim America to be a Christian nation.
And with that proclamation, one would imagine that the so-called “Christians” would seek every opportunity to help others who are in need.
Instead, the American Way is to judge those at the very bottom, and to do so in order to justify turning a blind eye to their need.
The most popular excuse is to pretend that the people who ask for money on the streets are all drug addicts or alcoholics, and so undeserving of any assistance.
Some people go as far as to lie and proclaim that the beggars are already on government assistance and are simply too lazy to accept a real job.
And, sadly, these are people who probably go to church regularly and claim to be deserving of God’s mercy, even as they have no mercy for the common man.
I almost understand the thought process that advocates away from giving money to the homeless or beggars, because the money may be supporting a habit, but that is simplistic and in many ways, inhumane.
The reality is that many of us who have homes drink and many of us even imbibe in controlled substances. But, we really have no idea what will happen to money we donate or give away, and if we are being freehearted, then it is only important that we give.
We donate freely to non-profit organizations without a thought as to where the money is going, and many of us tithe to the church without ever reviewing the church books. Our friends and family hit us up for loans and God only knows what use those funds will be put to.
Americans have some very strange ideas about people in need.
For example, ask a person who calls themselves conservative or Republican and typically, they will tell you that too many Blacks are abusing the Welfare system, an ideology put in place by the late Ronald Reagan, which was proven untrue.
The fact is that the traditional Welfare Queens are white women abusing the system, and of course they are the traditional Welfare Queens, because they comprise the majority of the Welfare rolls.
Truth be told, I, like many Blacks realize that Welfare doesn’t work, but the answer is not to villainize or punish those who need it as a failsafe for their families. The answer may be to deal with it even-handedly, like perhaps, curtailing corporate Welfare. But of course, Welfare Queens like Enron would get all strange on us.
Further, some people hold strange ideas about Affirmative Action, as though it is being abused and as though it is abusing Blacks. Their argument is that Blacks who enter college through assistance based on their skin color feel inferior.
My immediate response is: “Who asked you to think for us?” My second response is that the idea is dead wrong.
I am unashamedly a product of Affirmative Action and for the record, I don’t feel one bit inferior to anyone. I realized, even as a child, that the deck was created to be stacked against me and that if I got assistance with college admission, it would at least give me a chance to prove my worth.
Employment works the same way. If you give me the job because I am Black, that ceases to matter on the first day of work, when I will begin working my behind off to prove that I am qualified for advancement.
But I do realize that Affirmative Action can be abused and misused.
Affirmative Action got our dimwitted former president George W. Bush into Yale and the Texas Governorship. It also got him a baseball team and an oil company. Finally, it got him into the highest office in the land. Unfortunately, he has proved that his kind of Affirmative Action is a truly bad idea.
Affirmative Action for Georgie meant that doors opened for him that he should not have gone into. Opportunities were given to him that he was not only unqualified for, but at which he failed miserably, including the presidency.
Yet, I hear voices opposing Affirmative Action for African Americans, which only benefits the qualified to begin with. No Affirmative Action opponent can produce one shred of evidence that a student who nearly flunked out of high school was admitted to college on Affirmative Action, and there is no data to show that Blacks with little experience were given management jobs they were unqualified for.
It’s sad, but many otherwise, smart and forward-thinking Americans speak in platitudes, strongly and vehemently, without knowing what the heck they are talking about. Moreover, people feel too comfortable offering opinions about things that they don’t even have any way of knowing.
A glaring example of this can be found in dating. There are too many single people with poor relationship histories giving advice on relationships. They have done no research, and have spoken to no more than the people with whom they are acquainted, yet, they give advice on how to deal with ALL women or ALL men.
Without a basic examination of the world or at least a piece of it larger than your own experience, you can do little but offer confusion to those who probably didn’t ask you anyway. It is typically dangerous to offer advice if you have bad experience or no experience.
And, it makes no sense to advise people to do what you would not do yourself.
So, the next time you are doling out advice, or speaking sanctimoniously about social ills and who is doing what, think carefully, and if you don’t really know what you are talking about, just keep your mouth closed and your mind open. You may learn something.
And you just may resolve some of the conflicts in your mind.
Darryl James is an award-winning author of the powerful new anthology “Notes From The Edge.” James’ stage play, “Love In A Day,” opened in Los Angeles this Spring and will be running all Summer. View previous installments of this column at http://www.bridgecolumn.proboards36.com. Reach James at email@example.com.