4 Things To Learn From The Federal Government ‘Shut Down’

I don’t normally tackle ‘hot’ topics here.  This is a farm, homesteading, homeschooling, come-here-for-a-smile type blog.  BUT I’ve seen so much arguing and fighting and heightened emotions online recently about the federal government ‘shut down’, I just couldn’t ignore it.  I don’t have solutions.  And this post isn’t about whether or not to build the wall.  Or really political at all.  It doesn’t really matter if you’re a liberal, independent, uber conservative right winger, or a peacock.  I think so many of us are missing the main lessons to be learned in all of this fiasco.

Our emotions are so riled up, we fail to realize that now is a GREAT opportunity to see that we can learn from this experience to make sure our children, when they are adults in 10, 20 years, can have a future where they are not faced with the same reality facing so many nail-biting American families this month.

1. Be Kind

My goodness.  You aren’t going to change someone’s mind on Facebook by posting nasty memes or calling the working poor ‘lazy’.  In fact, you are probably alienating more friends than you care to realize.  This does not mean you have to agree with SNAP (food stamp program), subsidized insurance/child care/housing (and on goes that eternal list!).  But being sarcastic does not help.  Please.  No matter what you believe, be kind.  Always remember that we are called to be honest AND to build one another up in Christ.  It’s not one or the other…it’s both together.

2. Learn New Skills NOW and Pass Them On

This whole scenario should SCARE us about how dependent so many Americans are on the government to provide for them.  If we want a future for our children where our government cannot hold the economy hostage to whatever its current whim is, then we need teach our children skills to be self-sufficient.  Is it possible to be truly self-sufficient from the government?  Probably not when you look at the sheer number of industries and subsidies the government has sunk its talons into.  BUT, we can teach skills so that our children know that earning money is NOT the only way to provide for their families.

Our children should know how to grow food, how to trap, hunt, and process.  They need to know how to can.  They should understand the importance of keeping months worth of shelf stable food on hand.  They should know how to live well within their income.  They should know how to sew.  How to care for a baby without purchasing disposable goods.  They should understand the importance of choosing a life partner who will truly be a life partner (and how to be a good partner themselves!), especially when it comes to raising children.  Single parenthood is one of the largest indicators for poverty, and there are many good reasons that will always exist for single parenting, we can equip our boys AND girls how to reverse the growing trend of fractured families.

3. Get Involved In Your Community

There are lots of community food pantries, homeless shelters, and resource centers that will be hit hard should the shut down continue.  Volunteering time or extra resources you have will help those who are affected the most.  And, please, by extra resources I don’t mean empty your pantry of canned okra and well-expired spaghetti or donating anything that comes with the tagline ‘if you can just fix_________ it’ll be great!’.  Please be mindful that the people on the receiving end of your donation have to process, sort, and disseminate items and junk just gums up the works (and usually costs money to dispose of!).

Perhaps the greatest lesson we can learn in all of this is that if we work together as a community and not live these isolated individualized lives we can do a whole lot to care for each others’ burdens without needing a single dime from the government.  There is also an extra something special about receiving help from a person with a name attached, not just a nameless government deposit.

4. Realize That This Problem Cannot Be Solved Overnight

This problem cannot be solved overnight.  If you do not agree with government involvement in so many aspects of peoples’ lives, you need to realize that just cold-stopping assistance does not teach people new skills, does not suddenly give people the extra income to stock up on supplies or afford child care.  It does not miraculously make hospitals and pharmaceutical companies charge fair prices for their services and products.

If you support government assistance programs, realize that removing the government’s ability to halt spending programs is a complicated process.  And that change comes slowly, and it cannot be fixed today.  But also realize that there is a lot YOU can do, rich or poor, to help your neighbor who is struggling.

In today’s culture, we are so used to the idea that things can just be fixed.  We don’t like the concept of waiting.  But the fact remains that in THIS situation the best thing we can do is to learn and reinvest in our (and our children’s!) future.  We need to teach ourselves, our families, and our communities how to be more self-reliant so the government cannot hold so many hostage to their political ideologies.  We need to appreciate that this is a long process.  Changing is not easy, especially when it means living so oppositely of our ‘buy now, you only live once’ type culture.

We also need to realize that many in our community are facing a true crisis.  We need to do more than simply saying ‘well, you should work harder’ or ‘cancel that cellphone and buy food’.  We all know that for many, it is much more complicated than this!

Hopefully, we as an American people will learn from this experience.  Realize that our dependence on the government (at least how it is structured now) gives them much too much power.  Perhaps starting today we can work on enacting change in our own lives and community.  So that next time, we can simply turn the TV off, shrug our shoulders, and keep on with our lives.