In 2002, I found myself fresh out of a toxic relationship with two very young children, the three of us homeless. We hopped from couch to couch and often slept in the back of our van while I looked for permanent housing. My savings account had been gutted by my addict ex and while I had been hired to start a student employment position when my fall course load began at SRJC, I had nothing but a box of clothes and a few stacks of books to my name.
In those first months of crawling back from rock bottom, my daughters and I relied primarily on WIC (and, thankfully, Food Not Bombs) for our meals. This program, which stands to suffer greatly during this and any further government shutdowns, literally kept the three of us alive. Each month, we were given vouchers for food staples like peanut butter, cereal, beans, cheese, carrots and orange juice to use at our local market.
Yes, I should have gotten a job faster. I should have asked my parents for money (side note: my parents have no money). Maybe I should have used safer sex and waited to have kids. Regardless of who was at fault, or how bad I had fucked up by staying in an unhealthy relationship until it left me penniless and emotionally gutted, my kids—the beautiful, compassionate, lovely girls of mine—did not deserve to go hungry.
So you, instigators of this government shutdown, you “suicide caucus” Republicans with your so-called strategy and even more so-called Christian values: what the fuck are you thinking by throwing this adolescent tantrum of yours? So you don’t want affordable healthcare. Too late—it’s a law! Meanwhile, have you thought about the consequences of your actions? That breastfeeding women and small children go hungry when WIC programs are suspended? That seniors and others who rely on Section 8 vouchers may face eviction if HUD funds can’t be distributed?
You should be ashamed of yourselves. Put your big-boy pants on and stop acting like spoiled little brats.
“Christian values,” my ass.
Dani Burlison is a contributor to the Bohemian who lives in Santa Rosa.
Open Mic is a weekly op/ed feature in the Bohemian. We welcome your contribution. To have your topical essay of 350 words considered for publication, send it to firstname.lastname@example.org.