Flipping the Script on Poverty

Oct 3, 2016Op-ed, Safety Net, Human Dignity

President and CEO Paul Mero wrote an op-ed for the Deseret News explaining that we need to shift the way we see those who are in need and the way we assist them. Here is an excerpt:

I contend that our general distrust of the stranger, though instinctive, is harmful to a free society. I contend that a public relief system built upon distrust of the stranger, though intuitive, displaces exactly the human dignity needed to maintain the integrity of public relief. Last, I contend that unless we flip the script about the stranger we will do more to perpetuate poverty, especially intergenerational poverty, than we ever might save in tax dollars for our “prudent” distrust of the stranger.

The meaning of human dignity today has gone off the rails into politically correct paths. Its true essence remains what it has been for over 2,000 years when Jesus explained it to us — esteeming our brother as ourself. More specifically, human dignity in terms of our poor and needy means that we recognize, accept and live certain concepts. Among these concepts: Life is relational, not atomistic nor transactional; what we do and what we have are not who we are; materialism alone, or even primarily, does not solve poverty, and our obligation to care for the poor and needy vastly outweighs any political sense of entitlement. . . .

Flipping the script on poverty requires that we flip our baseline for how we view the public safety net. Instead of a baseline absent human dignity, focused on atomistic and transactional views of life, wherein applicants are assumed suspect as they shamefully approach the bench of public welfare, flipping the baseline would assume we are all beggars, circumstances being the only difference among us — a system wherein all are welcome, not judged, assisted relationally (not simply materialistically) and provided sufficient for their needs. This alternative view is the Utah way.

To read the full article go here.

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