When I was 8 years old, my parents pulled up stakes, sold their Island home and moved 400 miles away from all they had ever known. My Grandparents, although supportive, thought my parents were certifiably crazy. They couldn't understand what would possess them to drag their young family to the hinter boonies and abandon their wide circle of friends and family.
As my parents struck out on their own, they met obstacle after obstacle. Money ran out, work was back-breaking and winter weather was closing in. Even the most basic of necessities had yet to be procured before the snow fell.
And then my grandparents drove up the driveway. Soon, an outhouse frame began to rise in the treeline. Boards were nailed, toilet seats installed and metal roofing secured. As the men built the outhouse, the women spent their days, hammers in had, building trusses to create a new roof for our single-wide trailer house.
As the winter weather settled in, money completely dried up. Although very willing, my dad was unable to find work. Finally, a menial shop job became available at the local mill, however, the wage was much less than livable. Because we hadn't lived in the state long enough to qualify for in-state hunting licenses, and we couldn't afford out-of-state licenses, we were in danger of not having enough to eat.
Our neighbor, probably knowing the predicament we were in, would bring up a snowshoe hare now and again, to supplement our diet and the pastor of our church procured thousands of pounds of potatoes and apples from family in central Washington and blessed his flock with fresh produce. Although our foodstuffs were meager, we never went hungry.
Over the years, both my mother's parents and my dad's mother would help our family in various ways. My Grandma Omie sent "care" packages, filled with wonderful things we never would have been able to afford. Breakfast cereal, crackers and canned soup filled her gifts, along with toothpaste and toilet paper. It was like Christmas in July! My mom's parents would fill their 16' trailer with garage sale fodder, picked up throughout the year, and bring it over to stock our families 2nd hand/Surplus store and also bring bags of fun things like coloring books, crayons and potato chips.
When it came down to it, our family was our perfect social safety net. Although they didn't give us money, to use however we chose, they provided encouragement and more. They did what they were able, whether it was by providing care packages or helping to build outhouses and roof trusses. They saw needs and filled them. It was the perfect system.
The areas of need that our family was unable to fill were filled by our church. As it should be. Never were we given chunks of money, or were all of our needs met by one person, but never did we go hungry, go without. Our social safety next was just what God intended - family and church.
Many times over the years, my parents have become the safety net for Sir Knight and I. They have purchased generators, helped with inverters, installed doors, put in windows, done laundry and helped buy food. They have held us while we wept over a stillborn child, and rejoiced with us when we moved into our shouse. They have been our best, and only, social safety net.
Today, in a world full of Food Stamps, WIC and every other government entitlement, we have lost our moorings. No longer are we connected to our first, best safety net - our family and our church. As the government has systematically dismantled our best social safety net, they have replaced it with a poor substitute - themselves.
We need to rebuild our families. We need each other. The more our government self-destructs, the more we will need our families. We need to forgive each other, rebuilt relationships and built our futures together. We are in this together.
I've got to tell you - I would much rather be beholden to my family and my church, than my government. How about you?