The Starving Activist is the sometimes-home for words. AR Neal (that’s me) finds them, cultivates them, and leaves them here. Enjoy.

Haboob Manifesto, Pt. 2: Not Your Fight

"You don't have a cat/rooster/cricket/mucha lucha dog in that fight."Okay, so the phrase seemed to lose popularity a few years back when a known American football player got into trouble for dog fighting. However, there are times when there is nothing else you can say that suits the situation any better than telling someone that they don't have a cat/rooster/cricket/mucha lucha dog up in what's going on.But sometimes, just because it appears that the thing is not our fight, we should, in fact, have a cat/rooster/cricket/mucha lucha dog up in it.Take hunger, homelessness, and clueless people for example.

  • There is no good reason on this or any other Earth, that you should not be upset that there are hungry people in the world. For those of us in places other than famine-stricken regions of the world, hunger means, "Oh, gee, it's 10:30am; maybe I should go check out what snacks are in the office lounge." For those in some of the places where undernourishment is moderately high, food poverty is bigger than no snacks in the lounge--it means that not only does one-quarter or more of the population not have adequate access to basic food sources, many sources of food (good or bad) are imminently in danger due to natural disaster, difficult production issues, low education levels, and so on.
  • So, you have a house, condominium, townhouse, apartment, your mom/dad/auntie's attic. And have for most if not all of your life. You don't know homeless, but that does not mean that you should ignore it. How's this for a sobering statistic: During the course of each year, more than 110,000 different homeless New Yorkers, including more than 40,000 children, sleep at least one night in the municipal shelter system.  If you don't know New York, check out this warning about weather from the National Weather Service for today. It gets bitterly cold. Think about it.
  • Ah, clueless people. One of my favorite least favorite topics. Granted, none of us knows what we don't know; if I have never been homeless, much less homeless with emotional or developmental disabilities, I can't understand what it must be like for someone who is. However, it makes me clueless to jump out there and complain about taxes (and entitlements...that's the in-vogue term these days I guess) that support the systems that care for those less fortunate than I. It makes me clueless to talk about "those people," as if nothing in this world could cause me to be without resources for food or homeless.

We need to have at least one cat/rooster/cricket/mucha lucha dog in the social fight. Yes, there are individuals (note: i.n.d.i.v.i.d.u.a.l.s. Say it slowly, with meaning) who take advantage of the systems that this country has in place to help those who need it. I was just sharing a couple nights ago that I was appreciative of the WIC Program when I was pregnant with my son and during his formative years. For those of you who don't know it, that's Women, Infants, and Children. It provides supplemental food resources for pregnant and parenting women. It was not an entitlement. It was not a hand-out. It helped me deliver a healthy premature baby (my son was 1lb, 13oz when I gave birth to him at 29 weeks. He is 17 now. Praise God.). It helped me give him additional healthy foods when we were living in a city that was not known for great grocery store chains.After my first husband died, I went to the local social services office. Yes, I did. I was working at the time. I rented a house. I had a car. I had a small child. And I went to the social services office. Why? Because I was the only person at the job who did not have health insurance for myself or my son. The small privately owned company did not provide it; my colleagues had it through their spouses (or ex-spouses, as it was in some cases)--even the dudes. My boss's wife worked at a local university and so the insurance coverage came from her. I tried to ask for support in this area and got the "We're sorry, we just can't afford it" speech. So I went to the local social services office to apply for medical coverage for my son and I. Not food. Not cash assistance. Just medical. In completing the application I told my ENTIRE life story, and felt like I had given away at least 30 pounds of blood and organs in the process, to be told that I didn't qualify. Take a gander back up at the last paragraph, to the part where I mention a premature baby. He was about four by this time, but was developmentally behind with no health coverage. Go back to the start of this paragraph--I was a working widow who's deceased husband had had no insurance and subsequently no way to pay for regular doctor's checks for the high blood pressure and heart condition that ultimately took his life before he saw his 43rd birthday.Did I feel "entitled" to something? Sort of. I felt that as a working, contributing member of society who at the time was not fortunate enough to be in circumstances that allowed me to have a job with health insurance that I was entitled to some consideration and direction on how to provide such for myself and my child.Heck yeah I have at least one cat/rooster/cricket/mucha lucha dog in the social fight. And I will gladly stand in like John as the lone voice if need be to spread the word against cluelessness. To fight against "entitlement" talk. To spread the gospel as the Lord places it in my heart to lend support to those without it.Remember those i.n.d.i.v.i.d.u.a.l.s. who take advantage of the system? The ones we point at, with our upper lip curled, and say to one another behind closed doors, "It's because of people like him/her/them that our *$%#@ taxes are so *$%#@ high. They all get those entitlements."Yep, they are out there. And guess what?The Lord wants me (and you) to lend support to them too.Because I don't know--I mean, really don't know--who they are. If I go stare at the five people living under the bridge up the street, how do I know that contestants number 2 and 4 are the i.n.d.i.v.i.d.u.a.l.s. who are taking advantage of the system? So I am supposed to only give help to contestants number 1, 3, and 5, huh? Riiiiiiight.Having a cat/rooster/cricket/mucha lucha dog in the social fight does not mean judging. Judging is above our pay grade. Think about that one day, usually a Saturday, that you run out in your sleep sweatpants with that too-small holey top accompanied by a stellar case of bed-head: think about how annoyed you were by the look you got from the person at the deli counter when you ordered that special cheese you needed for the recipe you decided to whip up for the company coming that afternoon. Riiiiiiiight. That's a tiny smidge of what judging feels like. You don't like it, so why do it on an even grander scale.Stop being selfish this holiday season. Stop saying I don't have a  cat/rooster/cricket/mucha lucha dog in that fight. Get one. And start fighting.

Living on the Precipice, Pt. 2: New Messages Waiting

Living on the Precipice, Pt. 1: Apocalyptic FAIL