Drug addicts, lazy people, scroungers, spongers, parasites. It's how we're meant to think of things. People are on incapacity benefit for reasons of incapacity, and we're being gently nudged in the direction of a lack of sympathy - or maybe a lack of empathy. Fatties, too, are prominently mentioned by the government and the papers C&Ving the government's rhetoric - though if you look at the stats there's only a very small percentage of people on incapacity benefits for reasons of obesity - which, you might wonder, could possibly be linked to some kind of medical condition rather than a fondness for the odd pork pie, but who knows? We're not meant to question, or suspect, or think, or guess; we're meant to judge, and if we're those people in the 'safety net' which has become a 'spiral of welfare dependency', we're meant to be judged.
For me, I think, it comes down to empathy, or a lack of it. If you, as a person who isn't addicted to things, can look at a person who is addicted to things and think that it simply was their free choice made from free will, and that's all there is to it, it's easier to judge them, and think negatively of them. If you can look at someone who's an addict, and think, well I didn't end up as an addict, so they shouldn't have either, then it's easier to judge, too. I look at people who are addicted and think it's probably a combination of factors, perhaps a predisposition to addictive behaviour, combined with choices people have made; perhaps it isn't as simple as thinking that alkies, or fatties, or druggies, have just made their own beds and will have to lie in them. But then that's just being a bleeding heart, isn't it; a mawkishly sentimental fool whose kindness is milked by the parasites who are stealing our money, etcetera; and I don't have any argument against that. Except to say, I don't look at addicts and look down on them, not most of the time anyway.
Some people make massive errors, and fuckups in their lives, and end up doing dumb, stupid, antisocial and criminal things. They're responsible for everything they have done. But at the same time, they may not be starting from exactly the same place as the rest of us, which doesn't excuse it, but it does go some way to providing an explanation. And if you can think of other people as being like you, but possibly unlike you, possibly with different proclivities, and different needs, and different impulse controls, then that, to me, is a kind of humanity, and a good way to look at the world.
And I am sure the Government is careful not to say that addicts or fatties should be taken off benefits; they'll be careful not to say that kind of thing, but then they won't have to. They know what their friends in the press will do with the information, and how it will be presented, and the anger it will create. Because we aren't encouraged to think about other people as complex, heterodox creations of blood and bone; we're encouraged to be angry first, to react first, and think, if at all, some way down the line, once our knees have jerked.
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