This morning, I’m snapping my daughter into her car seat to go to kindergarten when she asks, “What does ashamed mean?”
I’ve got to say, it felt like a parenting win that she got to be 5 years old without learning the word shame.
Together, my husband and I explain shame is the opposite of pride. Shame is something others might try to make someone else feel, and also shame is something people can feel inside.
“Generally, shame isn’t something we want anyone to feel,” I say. “Though maybe if somebody really did do something bad, feeling ashamed about it could prompt them to say, ‘I’m sorry.’”
“But, like, let’s say I snap at Mama,” my husband adds. “It’s not shame that’s going to make me say sorry. It’s empathy. I don’t want her to feel bad, so I want to apologize to make it right.”
All of us have something society told us to be ashamed of: what you like, who you love, how you look. For me, I am acutely aware many people believe I should be ashamed our family utilizes government entitlements.
We receive food stamps through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP); free healthcare through Medicaid; and until my daughter’s 5th birthday, we were on WIC (Women, Infants, and Children nutrition assistance).
I am not ashamed.
In addition to free groceries and healthcare, we also receive access to public schools and libraries, clearly marked roads to drive on, and — hopefully we’ll never need it, but —the protection of our local fire department. Hmm, are those things entitlements too?
Here’s a list via the Bernie Sanders campaign of government programs we are all legally entitled to. You may not think about public defenders and sewer systems as entitlements, but they too are government resources we as a society agree everyone is entitled to.
In a nation as wealthy as the United States, yes, we are entitled to programs that provide a basic standard of living. We the people have already decided this.