The Witches’ Pyramid is a saying about the steps to take action: to know, to will, to dare, and to be silent. I’ve said before that I believe this is a cycle, and that being silent means listening, paying attention to the outcome of what has happened so that you can gather new knowledge to shape your next actions.
The silence of the Witches is not passive. It’s the silence that comes from asking questions and then listening, really listening, to their answers, because those answers guide the knowing, the willing, and the daring to make real changes happen.
Today, I ask: Why does the commissary take food stamps?
Take a look at this story from the Washington Post about military members needing help to feed their families for Thanksgiving. They don’t mean that dad’s having trouble cooking his first turkey while mom’s away on deployment (although that’s an issue, too). They mean that many military families have trouble affording food. It’s not just at Thanksgiving; all year round, commissaries take WIC and SNAP and other kinds of “food stamps.”
What does it say about our society that the amount of money it takes to get someone to risk her life is less than the amount it takes to feed her family?
We have a story, in this country, about how anyone can get ahead through hard work and all the other good Puritan values. At times, that story has given hope to people, so much hope that they would come across the ocean to settle in a new land. It still gives so much hope that people struggle to enter the country without papers just so they can have a shot at that kind of success – or just enough to feed their families, maybe.
The military has traditionally been the bedrock of that story. “Look,” people say, “anyone can join the military and get three hots and a cot, and maybe even work for 20 years and then collect a pension afterwards.” After WW II, it was true that many, many people were able to get an education, get a job, and raise a family, largely thanks to the start the military gave them.
Today, that story is a lie.
This is what I learn from asking why the commissary takes food stamps.
People are enlisting in the military not just to have a chance at a college education and a pension. They’re enlisting in order to have their rotten teeth pulled and to get enough money that with food stamps and the commissary discounts and the help of a food bank they might be able to feed their kids.
There’s something that happens when the people with the guns don’t have enough to eat. It’s called a revolution. It’s not pretty.
Telling people to “get a job” when there are no jobs – and when those jobs, even at the risk of your life, don’t pay enough to feed your family – is a variation on “let them eat cake.” It’s the noise made by people who aren’t listening.
Today, as a Witch, I’m listening to the silence, and I’m trying to find the will and the daring to deal with the knowledge that comes from asking a simple question: Why does the commissary take food stamps?