For this assignment, we’ll be discussing the use of government assistance in the United States.  Please answer the following in a “Q&”A” format (i.e., #1 and your response; #2 and your response). **Remember, please be respectful in your posts since they are shared with the class.

If most Americans benefit from government welfare at some point in their lives, why do Americans generally have such negative attitudes about it?

Do you feel like government assistance creates dependency and traps people in a cycle of poverty?  Explain your answer and provide examples.

They cried about how blessed they were. A few wild-haired men, afraid of its potent meaning, wanted to throw kerosene in the cave and burn it. But one of the powerful women stepped up. She believed it had a purpose for going into the cave and that the humans, a small group of lives beside a big ocean, should leave it alone. Others agreed. Its purpose was a mystery. Or perhaps it was sick or going to give birth. It turned a shade of red as it reached the safety of the cave. And so the people thought it was holy and they left gifts outside the entrance to the black rock cave. Some left sage and red cedar. Some offered shining things, glass smoothed by the sea, even their watches. As for the infant Thomas, his mother, whose own infancy was fed on whale and seal fat, was one of those who thought it was a holy creature and its presence at the time of his birth granted to Thomas a special life. She came from Thomas’s birth at of his birth granted to Thomas a special life. She came from Thomas’s birth at the place of the old people and stood before the entrance of the octopus cave and held her kicking baby up to it, to be seen by it. “Here is my son. You knew his grandfather. Watch over him.” They were poor people. She had little to leave but the pearl she inherited from her father, Witka. She rolled it into the cave. She was convinced the octopus would be the spirit-keeper of her son, because she thought like the old people used to think, that such helpers existed and they were benevolent spirits. An older man named Samuel left his silver ring at the entrance to the cave; it was his finest possession. Not to have given something they cared about would have been no gift at all, so, following his example, others left sparkling glasses, pieces of gold, beads, all the shining things the octopus people love in their homes beneath water. For the time it dwelt there, they brought offerings, even the first flowers of morning. The treasures built up like small middens. Even the children didn’t take the treasures, although they did go look at them and marvel at what they found, until their mothers grabbed them away. The younger children tasted them and found them without flavor except the salt from the air. Those who were afraid the octopus was created by magic or called into being by some force on land not benevolent kept an eye on how it stood in the back of the cave. But it sensed their emotions and formed itself to fit beneath a ledge. It could shape itself to fit into anything, a bottle, a basket. That was how they were caught in the old days, by baskets lowered into the water at night and lifted in the mornings, the creature inside it. Yet, that quality scared people who knew little about them, but had heard much about shape-shifters and their deceits and witchery on humans, always with poor outcomes for the mortals. Nevertheless, the mother of Thomas, in a plain white dress, took the baby Thomas daily across the sand to the cave when the tide was out. Then, one night, without any sign, the octopus disappeared from human sight and went back into the water. As closely as they watched, no one saw its return to the ocean. It must have been three in the morning, they decided, because early each morning the old people were on the beach singing powerful, old, and still-remembered songs. They sang around four each morning when the atmosphere is most charged with energy. They could say this now that they lived in measured time. Also, they could remain and pray and watch the reflected red of dawn on the rocks and sky. Drinkers might have seen it at two in the morning as they sat on the beach drumming and singing their newer songs. Of course, they may have missed it while kissing a lover or, like Dimitri Smith, the man who never tucked in his shirt and slept often on the beach, while gazing only upward at the sky, searching out and naming the constellations: Whale. Sea Lion. Octopus. Yes, that was one of them. that was one of them. With the departure of the octopus went their gifts. The octopus, by accepting the Smiths’ gold ring, Witka’s pearl, gems, the pieces of silver, even a pair of glasses, knew it was loved by them and it would help them as it went back under the sea and stayed there, maybe giving them good fishing or good deer hunting, whaling money, love medicine, all things desperately wanted by humans and shifting in their value day by day, moment by moment, depending on their needs. Thomas’s grandfather was the well-known whaler named Witka. He was the one who told them what gifts the octopus loved. He was the last of those who could go under the sea holding his breath for long times and remain, so he had a great deal of knowledge about the ocean and all sea life. He was the last of a line of traditional men who loved and visited the whales to ensure a good whale hunt, along with his friend, the great-grandfather of Dimitri Smith and a man named Akita-si who could also remain beneath water for briefer times than Witka, but long enough to sew a whale’s mouth closed when they killed a whale. This sewing was important so that the lungs wouldn’t fill with water and the whale sink to the bottom of the ocean. Witka’s wife lived most of the time in the white town. His other women lived in the wooden houses that used to be up against the mountain before the tidal wave washed the places away, but he himself stayed and dreamed much of the time in the dark gray house he built on top of the thirty-two-foot-high black rock where his grandson, Thomas Witka Just, now dwells, thinking of his grandfather, whose watch on the sea had been constant, that man who spoke with the whales, entreated them, and asked, singing with his arms extended, if one of them would offer itself to the poor people on land. He beckoned and pleaded when the people were hungry. The rest of the time Witka watched their great numbers passing by, spraying or standing in water to look around, or rising and diving, their shining sides covered with barnacles. The infant whales were sometimes lifted on the backs of the mothers. They were such a sight for him to behold, the man who lived between the worlds and between the elements. Water was not really a place for humans, but Witka the whale hunter had courage. He had practiced holding his breath from childhood in preparation for this role. Only for this. He was born to it and his parents were unhappy about it. When he went beneath water, they stood in their clothing woven of sea grass and waited for him to surface. But they couldn’t hope away his destiny. He was born with a job set out for him and his life was already known to them. He wore white cloth that set him apart so the others would know and remember what and who cloth that set him apart so the others would know and remember what and who he was. That way they would treat him well. He learned the songs and prayers. By the age of five he had dreamed the map of underwater mountains and valleys, the landscape of rock and kelp forests and the language of currents. He had an affinity for it. He saw it all. At night he dreamed of the way it changed from day to day. They were beautiful dreams and he loved the ocean world. “You should see the circle of shining fish,” he told his mother. “Oh my,” was all she could say in return, creasing her embroidered handkerchief, wiping her eyes. Later, as a man, he visited the world he dreamed. He traveled there. A person could always think of the old man in any way they wanted, but usually they saw him in their mind’s eye as the old whaler who went underneath the water, white hair flying in the currents, old dark face even more wrinkled from the salt water, the man who was a medical oddity, a human curiosity, a visionary, a hunter and carver, and a medicine man who could cure rheumatism and dizzy spells. His knowledge of the ocean was so great that scientists came to question him. Scientists and anthropologists then wrote papers about what he told them. Doctors from as far away as Russia came to find out how he held his breath and stayed beneath water for as long as he did with no ill effects, how he could remain in a hibernating state without breathing. “He’s like those men in India who do yoga,” said one of them, thinking if they could learn it what a weapon it would make. Once Witka remained for part of the time with an octopus. It was a larger one, a fifteen-footer all stretched out, Witka caressing the tentacles. Of course, he could have exaggerated. Who would ever know? The octopus, who had the gift of feeling its way into small places, searched out his pockets and took several coins. It then worked the wedding ring off his hand. That was how they knew what the octopus loved. Witka told them all about it, laughing, his missing tooth showing when he laughed. His left hand he held up for display, naked of the ring. “And not a single tentacle print did it leave!” he said. All this was in the days when the women would sing the whales toward them. Witka’s wife, too, was a chosen one. That’s how they came to be matched. She was one of the whale-singers. As for whaling in those days, nothing except the women who sang the whales toward them was more serious than Witka’s knowledge of the sea. When he walked into the cold depths of the ocean, or slipped so carefully out of the canoe, he began in earnest a hunt for the whale. When Witka went into the ocean, everyone and everything on land was still. The When Witka went into the ocean, everyone and everything on land was still. The town stopped living. No one labored. No one bought or sold. No one laughed or kissed. It was the unspoken rule. All they did was wait, the women singing, eerily, at ocean’s edge. They were solemn and spoke softly and they considered this the great act of a man who sacrificed for them. All they did was think of him out there in the sea and of the whales that would approach. For them. The people of the water. People of the whale. When he entered the water, his wife, by spiritual rule, went underground. Even when she was very old and stooped, she dug the hole herself. With a small shovel and with her own thin, wrinkled hands. This was the way it was always done. She dug a hole, like a bear den, deep inside the giant roots of a tree. She covered herself with skins and she stayed under the earth, eyes closed, visions in her head of what her husband was seeing inside the water. She was beneath ground; he was beneath water. Maybe she breathed for him. People wondered if they were that connected because it was known that in the cold and dark they …

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