Photo by Evan Kirby
The recent federal budget proposed by the Trump administration would cut hundreds of billions of dollars from Medicaid and food stamp programs over the next ten years. Tens of millions of Americans would lose access to health care and go hungry as a result.
I’ve been thinking a lot about this because it’s really ugly stuff. At the heart of the matter, I see one basic question. Is it more important to be right, or to be compassionate and human?
Perhaps the main argument in favor of the cuts proposed by the Trump budget plan has to do with work and personal responsibility. If someone isn’t working, the thinking goes, why should their fellow citizens care if their basic needs are met? Why should people who do go out and work for a living help those who don’t?
In truth, most people on Medicaid or food stamps have jobs or want to work. However, it’s much more interesting to consider someone who doesn’t have a job and isn’t looking for one.There, a conservative proponent of cuts would have a point. Maybe it isn’t fair that he or she should have to contribute to another, non-working person’s well-being. So that brings us to our basic question: is it better to stand firm and righteous on a principle of fairness, and let someone else go hungry, or help feed them and not worry about the rest?
I know what I believe. Principles are great until they’re not. If someone is hungry and we can help feed them, let’s do it! That just matters more than our personal and often shortsighted sense of fairness. The universe won’t punish us for being generous; indeed, our kindness always serves to better our world.
This sort of thing always comes back around anyway. Those of us who feel secure in our position and our role in society will one day fall, and come to see we need the help of others. Perhaps those we fed when we did have bounty will then do the same for us, when the roles are reversed. That’s just how it works, whether we see it or not.
There’s more than enough money in this country for everyone to have their basic needs met. That’s a good thing. Let’s not miss the forest for the trees and lose sight of that.
Ian is a writer and the founder and editor of Open Heart Beginner's Mind.