I Love Government Cheese

Having grown up in a household that had to sometimes rely on the generosity of Uncle Sam, I was unknowingly grateful for that big orange block of chemicals that would magically appear in our fridge from time to time. I say unknowingly, because my mother never told us until we were well into adulthood that she shamefully had to depend on government assistance when we were kids.

My mother was a very proud and hard working woman. She worked her butt, and her very last nerve, off raising 4 hellion children on her own. She worked midnights as a nurse and exhaustedly came home to the chaos of 4 kids, with an age gap of 7 years, who whined, cried and fought their way off to school everyday.

This is when she could start her second job as the house keeper. Like Cinderella, she did the chores, mended the clothes, and, if she was lucky, find a few hours to sleep before the next wave of terror would charge through the front door signaled by the ringing of the school bell. That’s when her third shift started managing to feed and entertain us and get us tucked into bed so she could start it all over again.

She sacrificed her whole life, happiness, and sanity for a rowdy bunch of brats who never appreciated the sacrifices she made for them. We always wanted for more as our neighbors and friends always seemed to have more than us, but she always tried her best to make us happy.

Having an irresponsible ex-husband who unreliably paid the court ordered pittance to support his offspring, my mother reluctantly turned to the government for help when there was no where left to turn. She didn’t do it because she was lazy, she didn’t do it to take advantage of the system, she did It because she had to care for her family. I can’t say that I grew up in poverty because I was much more fortunate than so many millions of people who try to provide for their families on far, far less. I do, however recall feeling the burden that my mother was under during my whole childhood. If I were in the same situation today, with the social programs available to poor families or families on the brink of poverty, I can honestly say that there is no way I could survive.

As I was discussing this topic with a friend, he said he didn’t know about government cheese. I was kind of shocked because I thought it was common knowledge. Today, Government Cheese is a term that’s synonymous with getting a handout from the government in the form of housing, cash and/or food assistance; aka welfare. But the origin of government cheese comes from 80’s when, then President Reagan, wanted to artificially increase the demand for milk. They turned the milk into cheese, butter, and powdered milk that was stored in 150 warehouses across 35 states. It was then distributed in generic boxes to people who needed food assistance. The cheese itself arrived in a nondescript generic box that contained a huge 5 pound slab of bright orange ‘cheese’. What was actually in it was a mystery, but it melted nicely, it lasted for a long time, and as far as I remember, it was pretty tasty.

Over the last 40 years, welfare became a 4 letter word in this country. When the welfare system was created during the Great Depression there was no shame to be had. It was a humanitarian effort to provide for the basic amenities for people in need. Most people who were on assistance were given the help they needed to get back on their feet and provide for their families on their own and later thrive because they were able to bounce back without first having to dig themselves out of a hole.

Since the great days of government cheese, the social safety nets that were put in place to protect the needy have slowly been dismantled to provide less assistance to less people. This has had a disproportionate ripple affect to people of color as they are more likely to experience multigenerational poverty. Where people of higher economic standing have wealth to pass on to future generations, people who live in poverty have nothing but debt to pass on to their heirs. This creates the large communities of families who are homeless or barely making ends meet with no hope of ever escaping.

As we are now on the brink of another Great Depression, maybe even a Greater Depression, millions of people who have never given a second thought about financial security are looking to the government to help them get through this tragedy.

Though I’m grateful that the government has stepped up to provide during this national/global crisis, the national crisis started when the government started and continues to cut social programs for people in need; all people in need, all the time. This is why I wrote a few days ago in my post ‘I Love Pandemics’ that I see this crisis as a gift.

It’s now abundantly clear the gaping holes that are present in our social safety net. It’s saddens me that it’s fine to let people live in poverty or homeless on the street when the economy is doing great, but when the middle class and rich are affected, all of the sudden the maximum unemployment amount is insufficient, we need to send everyone a stimulus check, and provide bailout money to keep the country on life support. Could this be considered reparations of a failed government? Perhaps these types of reparations should be revisited again in the near future to help the poor and homeless people in this country all to a life that is livable and affordable.

As a result of insufficient government planning, and lack of social support programs, the spread of the coronavirus had a much more devastating effect compared with other countries who have good social support programs for their people. Where in Europe, people knew they would be able to survive and pay for food and bills when asked to stay home. In the US, even under the threats to the health and lives of themselves and their families, people continued to work long after the virus was hitting the nation hard because they were more concerned about receiving an overdue notice than they were for the well-being of themselves and others. This just shouldn’t be possible in the richest country in the world.

Politicians have long used the pitiful excuse that people on welfare are lazy and all they want to do is sit on the couch all day and watch tv. They do this as justification to cut social programs so they can cut taxes. As we have all been equalized to a simulated state of being on welfare, can you honestly imagine spending your whole life getting a check to watch tv?

We as humans have hopes, dreams and goals to live the best life we can live. Isn’t it fair that everyone should have equal opportunity to experience a fruitful and fulfilling life? I’m sure there are such people who want to binge reruns of Friends for the rest of their lives, and I think they should have that right if they want. But I truly believe that if everyone in this country never had to worry about food, shelter or education, the American dream would come back to life again.

Love you!

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I Love Pandemics

The world I WILL be pursuing, as we all weather this storm, will be one of love, compassion, and equality for everyone.

This pandemic is a sign. If you believe in a power greater than yourself, you can call it a message from god or whatever deity you prefer; if not you can call it a wake up call. I call it a gift.

Everything the people of the world are witnessing and experiencing right now is the beginning of the end. Not the annihilation of the world, but the end of the world as we know it. The world has been building to this point for centuries. I don’t believe in prophecies or a judgement day, but I do believe in seizing the moment.

The old world we’ve been inhabiting for the last 60+ years has improved technologically beyond our wildest dreams but declined ideologically to the darkest pools of mire.

The old world of bias and bigotry, of inequality and imbalance; and of intolerance and hatred of our fellow human beings has run its course and it’s time to put down our actual and preverbal guns and open our arms (at a safe social distance) and embrace our fellow human beings.

We need an end to governments and those entities who tangentially control them who treat its citizens more like slaves and masters rather than equal human beings. The time and evidence now before us demonstrates that we all are entitled to equal rights and protections under the law regardless of color, size, age, health, party affiliation, sex, orientation, origin, preference, nationality, wealth, education, crime, langage, family, et al…. Equal to have a basic standard of living that everyone can afford and attain. Basic to not have to ever worry about food, healthcare, education, or a safe place to live ever again.

The signs were evident for a very long time, but we walked past them or looked the other way as it suited us. We’ve been beholden to a toxic political system where leaders are selected, of all political leanings, who put their personal agenda above the general welfare of their constituents. Where we as people slap labels on swaths of the population like ‘Republicans’, ‘Liberals’, ‘Corporations’, ‘Muslims’, ‘Christians’, ‘Latinos’, ‘Asians’, ‘Whites’, ‘Blacks’, ‘Blue or Red’ and make them friend or foe accordingly.

Public discourse has devolved to isolating ourselves into bubbles of like minded people by blocking any dissenting viewpoint while simultaneously berating, belittling, and down right disrespecting people who have differing perspectives on the world because they’ve been grouped together under a label.

We, as human beings are all individuals, not labels. We all have unique experiences, affiliations, fears, ideas, and goals. We all deserve to be treated with respect and need to treat all human beings equally. We can respectfully disagree with the actions or beliefs of an individual or organization, but respect the underlying human beings who may belong to an organization as they may or may not subscribe to every covenant that is associated with the label. We need to learn how to engage in thoughtful constructive communication where we speak to each other, not at one another, with respect and agreeing to respectfully disagree when you can’t come to a consensus. Speaking from a bully pulpit degrading large swaths of people or organizations (aka labels) does not unite us, it separates us and polarizes everyone.

These old ways of division are over. We’ve all been humbled down to the same level across the globe. We’re all finally equal… equally scared, equally uncertain, and equally vulnerable.

The end of the world, as I see it unfolding in front of me, is a moment in history where the world is slowing down, sputtering along, slowly winding down around us as it gets ready to shutdown, upgrade, and reboot.

Where the signs were surreptitious in the past, in the current environment they are clear; you can see them blatantly everyday. A disease that is growing exponentially that could could potentially kill millions, if not hundreds of millions of people; the panic and fear across the globe; the empty store shelves, hoarding of food (and for some crazy reason toilet paper); people who refuse to quarantine because they’re more afraid of a bill than the potential to spread a potentially lethal disease; and through it all we are still holding on to the ineffective ways of communication by degrading and attacking people with whom we don’t agree. This division has many culprits, from the media to political parties, but it is we as human beings who allow it to continue to propagate.

As we are living today, in what seems like the worst of humanity, I see the future post-pandemic world taking shape. I see people reaching out to friends, neighbors, and people they don’t even know extending a hand of peace, love, and assistance to those in need. I see a government that is begrudgingly acquiescing to enact programs to help those in need after decades of dismantling social programs that could have aided in quelling the rampent spread of this virus in this country in particular.

This is our moment for every human being on the planet, to shape the new world. To unite around ideas and solutions that protect everyone. It’s time for Earth 2.0.

It’s not going to be easy and we’ll most likely not get it right the first or fiftieth time around. But we can continue to thrive for a better world around the common goal of equality and social security for all.

Like any disaster, it’s starts with panic, fear, and selfishness to fend for ourselves during a time of unknown. But as is also true in the aftermath of any disaster, the true human nature takes over and people exit their homes, if they are so fortunate to do so, and help the community rebuild. And that’s exactly what I am already seeing and plan to do as we move forward.

I wish everyone, whether we agree with each other or not, good health and safe passage through this historic global event.

Love you!

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I Love Conflict

Once upon a time, on a Galaxy phone not too far away, I thought of online or personal conflict as an opportunity to battle to the proverbial death.

As I used to be a first responder when it came to attacking thoughts or ideas that didn’t align with mine, whether it be face to face or online, I used anger, rage, belittling, berating, and down right insulting people with whom I disagreed. As I saw it, everyone was entitled to my opinion and I salivated at the chance to confront anyone on any topic.

During my reign as a verbal and literary terrorist, I was perplexed that very few people were surrendering to my demands to think like me. My remarks were cutting, witty, and most importantly, I was RIGHT! Of course there were those who completely agreed with me and consequently fueled my mission to clone the world consciousness to my will. I encircled myself with my troops of like minded people and pushed away the enemies.

I, of course, was not a unique player in this global game of mind control. But I finally gave up the fight as the 2016 election truly pushed me over the edge and after spending years of battling to have my views understood, I finally got so frustrated I just threw up my hands and surrendered. I shut my mouth and distanced myself from social media as well as the rest of the world.

During my isolation from social battling, I took some time to reassess my life. I was suffering from depression and anxiety as I felt that the world was coming to an devastating end and I had the solutions, but no one was listening. That’s when I discovered love; not just the love of a person or thing, but the love of everything.

After studying with spiritual and kind hearted people, I learned that being ‘right’ is a perspective, not a license to freely treat people abrasively based on differing perspectives. This was a life changer for me. It made me understand and empathize with other people and their perspectives. Because a single hateful rant on Facebook doesn’t convey their pains, experience, goals, dreams, or, personality. This is when I changed my approach to communication.

Where I used to take the offensive hateful approach, I started listening more and talking less. In doing so, I started to learn that starting a conversation from a place of love, rather than hate, I found that people were more receptive to what I had to say. In fact I starting talking about the importance of love and empathy in all conversations. And the more I practiced these simple techniques, I found that I was actually achieving my goal of imparting my views on people; and though we didn’t always agree on all points the other party almost always agreed that my approach of leading with love was the way we all should be communicating.

Being kinder and gentler in my approach to civil discourse had a profound effect not only on me and my hope for the world but also those I spoke with as well as with those with whom our ideals did not align. It did so much for me personally as I finally found a way to communicate and felt like I was being heard.

With my new found powers of love and compassion, I felt energized and went back online to practice these skills back on social media. Regrettably, these skills do not translate to the land of social-online-distancing. I found no matter how kind or non-confrontational I was in my discourse, I was treated as I was before; the enemy for not agreeing with their views. I can’t say that I was surprised, but I did have hope. I just had to accept that the online world doesn’t promote unity and the sharing of ideas, but rather social bubbles of like minded people who literally or figuratively block people based on perspectives.

I understand all too well this realm of perpetual discontent as I was a perpetrator in the faceless semi-anonymous avatar-world that is social media. This was my main reason for starting this blog as it gives me a platform to share my journey of replacing hate in my life and the world with love and hope.

My new way of interacting in the various nebulous clouds is to guide people to use kindness and love towards the people they are trying to influence rather than language that promotes anger, division, and hate.

Ultimately, I’ve found these skills I have acquired are best used in face to face discussions. When you have to look someone in the eye, it’s much more difficult, for most good people, to be cruel, dismissive, or unreasonable. It doesn’t, however, prevent them from sprinting in the other direction when they see you coming.

You can’t change the world by screaming at it, but you certainly can one person at a time when you lead with love.

Love you!

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I Love Hate

Yes sir, you got that right… I LOVE me some hate. Before I get into why, let me first explain this blog.

I’ve been pondering this idea for the last couple years and I really didn’t know how I wanted to express myself. All I knew is that hate had become so incredibly toxic in my own life and I feel like it’s tearing the world apart.  

I first set out to remove hate from my life. When hate arises in me whether it be traffic, politics or when McDonald’s doesn’t put the lid on my cup correctly, I sit back, take a breath, and find the good in the situation. In doing so, I’ve found that life, people, and situations that surround me have gotten a lot easier to accept, and this in turn has greatly improved my quality of life.

I came up with the idea that ‘All Hate Matters’ because it’s a bit of a double-entendre. On one hand it’s a blog where I intend to discuss all matters of hate from politics to avocado toast eaters and everything in between. In addition, the name of the blog is exactly what I’m trying to say; All hate matters, it has significance and importance in the world, because there is no good hate. If you’re hating on someone, something, or somewhere, it matters. It matters because it’s toxic to the hater and in general hate is not a way forward. It’s not a way for us to evolve to the next level. The only thing hate does is keep us from understanding each other, communicating, and making the world a better place to live. So ultimately, I want to save the world; one topic at a time. Lofty dreams I know, but ya gotta start somewhere, right?

When I try to talk about hate with people, I leave the conversation like a losing beauty pageant contestant; like I tried to exit stage right then was pushed the other way because I was supposed to exit stage left, tripped on my gown and now I’m stumbling across the stage in shame with my tiara hanging from a tuft of hair, I have lipstick smeared on my teeth, my mascara is running down my face and I have a general feeling of ‘what the fuck just happened?’ I know that sounds a bit over dramatic, but it’s really so frustrating trying to get people to see things in a different light. People get so stuck on making their point on why their hate is justified they refuse to listen to anything that doesn’t support their views.

When I first started writing I had a really tough time because I wanted the title of each article to start, ‘I Hate…’. In my head, when I think of the phrase ‘I hate hate’, it sounds like a perfect I-have-no-idea-what-the-fuck-to-say beauty pageant answer that would end with, ‘… and world peace.’

As a person with ADH<squirrel>D, it’s hard enough to get my point across without getting derailed or diverted to another subject. What I needed was a way to organize my thoughts to clearly and succinctly get out my message out without distraction (and the ability to edit). It’s really hard to get my message out with people trying to inject their opinion, usually hateful, before I’ve even finished my explanation; especially when I start out with “I Love President Trump” (stay tuned for that one). Therefore, I feel this blog will be the perfect medium for this kind of content. 

As I’ve been trying to start this blog the thought of where to start has been swirling in my head. ‘At the very beginning…’ conjures tunes from ‘The Sound of Music’ in my head and how can you think about hate when ‘Do-re-mi’ is dancing through my mind?

Beginning my articles with ‘I Hate…” left me with a lot of topics of hate that I’ve overcome or want humanity to overcome, but not a lot of content to back it up. It was like the hate was holding me back. It wasn’t until I started to lead with ‘I Love…’ that the words started flowing. For this, I really must credit a quote from Dr. Martin Luther King “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”. Whoa! That blew my mind… that’s exactly what I want people to get out of this blog which is to find the love in the world and tone down or eliminate the hate.

So there you have it, I love hate; because as I identify and eliminate it from my life, I’m hoping that I can pass on my experience to others and maybe make this world a little bit happier.

I hope you enjoy the journey with me and learn to love a little more in the process.

Love you!