“Grant Lord, that our grants will be paid on time.” FAMILY WEEKLY 16 MARCH 2017

“Grant, O Lord, that our grants will be paid on time.”

Hey, is praying asking or demanding?   Am I asking for what is a right or for a gift, in a sense a gratuitous gift for which gratitude could be expected?  In another sense of the word there is gratuitous violence too often associated with demands.

The issue of social grants is high on the local agenda and during this Human Rights Month with Human Rights Day on 21st March and with the family theme for March “act justly to and in families”  this could be a good topic for family discussion too.

While preparing for my weekly Family Matters Radio Veritas programme I was considering what to say about the four years of Pope Francis’ pontificate.  He has written a lot, spoken more, and his general approach involves dialogue rather than confrontation.  His simple frequent advice to families is to learn to say, “please”, “thank you,” “I’m sorry.”   To one another and also to God.

The Pope is strong on rights however, especially the rights of the poor, underprivileged and disadvantaged. In Amoris Laetitia he calls on all States to develop an effective family policy.  This may well include grants of various kinds for identified needs.

  • In South Africa of a population of around 55 million 17 million people receive a government grant.
  • Grants are given to the poor, the elderly, people with disabilities and those who foster children.
  • 12 million are children whose families, rather than they themselves, receive a child support grant.
  • Of course grants for the elderly are common worldwide, seen as a government pension. A pension is often seen as something one has worked for and is one’s due, getting it back in some form.

South Africa’s very good system of grants however is billions of Rand given out by the government each month.  This comes out of taxes paid.  Dispensing grants is currently on the table and beneficiaries are seriously concerned if their money will be paid on time. For many families this not only complements their small income but is the main source of income, little as it is.

A general Basic Income Grant has also come up for discussion in the light of the high unemployment rate in the country which is not being adequately addressed.  Again who would receive it and how it would be dispensed is a logistical exercise of some magnitude.

MARFAM’s theme for the year is FAMILIES WALK THE TALK.   Many do so with difficulty.   The second part “Act justly, love mercy and tenderness and walk humbly with your God” is taken from the prophet Micah.   March, being Human Rights Month with Human Rights Day coming up on 21st has as its theme “Act justly to and in families.” Basic human rights require provision of shelter, food and security. Add on education, health care, clothing and more.  All this within limits and to be provided from outside and from within.  Providing clothing and Putting food on the table can be simple and does not have to respond to extravagant demands.

Pope Francis advocates for support for the poor and those in any kind of need but the concept of gratitude should not be forgotten either. Grants may be a seen as a right, which is at times abused in families, but are they not still a gift and to be appreciated as such?  It does no harm to say “please,” and “thank you.”  Where there are shortcomings in distribution the attitude of “I’m sorry” would not fall amiss.

How does these  attitudes fit in with the common one of protests and especially gratuitous violence during protests around service delivery?   God forbid that this should happen in a home.   “Grant us Lord, to appreciate the grants we receive and may we grant to others what we are able to share.”   Amen   TR

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