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WRITE TEAM: Sorry if you're offended, but...

From a buddy’s recent post: "And those social programs only help those who don’t help themselves other than to get free stuff! … “

You know I had to say something. 

I’m not offended, friend. But before socialism is parsed, we need to agree on the actual definition. I'm seeing things/programs being promulgated by Americans as socialism that aren’t. I note with dismay that capitalism is subject to that same confusion. 

I'm no economist. The professionals can give discourse on that subject. But Google U makes no one an authority. I know. I've certainly Googled a million or 12 things, and what I've learned is that there's a ton of bull out there. We're all "experts" now.

As we increasingly communicate electronically, we talk less to actual people and it’s getting messy. My point? Unless we take the time to look one another in the eyes, and honestly attempt to fully comprehend what other humans endeavor to say, it won't matter HOW correct we are. 

I COULD take offense at this piece (as can millions of others, I am not unique) as it accuses me, a beneficiary of 'socialistic policies, of being something I’m not. A lazy scum, getting "stuff" without working or contributing to the system that currently helps me.

I'm 100% disabled. You can bet I have gotten ‘stuff." Access to healthcare including mental healthcare. (That’s major. It saved my life.) Help with Medicare and Medicaid. Meal programs when SoSec doesn’t reach the end of the month. I've gotten a break on my license plates as a disabled American as the $100-plus sticker cost took out my grocery budget and utilities for the month. There are other programs, but you get the point. 

I know that you aren't directly accusing me of malfeasance. 

I DON’T take offense. I know you to be a kind person. I hear your frustration in your post. However, I also hear misinformation in that article. I hear the echo of misleading talking points that churn from those who have a much larger platform - and agenda - than either of us. 

That's the trouble with personal echo chambers and talking points. "They" grab hold of a piece of the truth that resonates with each of us, and we then start to trust everything "they" have to say on the subject. Even if now and again it's being embellished with half-truths and straight up fabrication, we still point to it and agree. We’ve come to depend on those resources to be truthful. ‘Cause if they aren't? We're wrong. We can't be wrong. But we are, just the same.

It's problematic, painting swaths of Americans in a broad stroke. I know you don't mean EVERY SINGLE PERSON who benefits from social programs is a louse, because I know you. The tired trope that others (Them) are scamming hard working Americans (Us) doesn't hold water and needs to be put to rest. But the stage has already been set: Us vs. Them. Nobody wins.

P.S. If you truly DO believe the all or nothing, Us vs. Them in your post, please think on this: You and I, by virtue of my dependence on social programs, are Us vs Them. I'm a Them. Can we still be friends, or is it more important to be right?

SHANNON HIGGINS CONNOR is a mom, a voracious reader, a jewelry maker, a bipolar wonder, a dog mom/chauffeur, a tequila enthusiast, and (kind of) a writer who currently lives with her Weimaraner, Meeshka in Streator ... but is always scanning the horizon for the next move. She is a believer in both climate change and "Leave things better than you found them." She can be reached at tsloup@shawmedia.com

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