thought, movement, or space. 19 The freedom to move across borders, access accommodation or food, and many others represent the most straightforward living necessity: survival. 20 All people deserve and require dignity-giving and justice-doing. But, again, the parallel to family well-being work is apparent. The capabilities and wisdom of people, including parents, family members, and communities, have always been present; the freedoms, acknowledgments, and spaces created to welcome those capabilities and allow families to utilize them have not. Therefore we are mistaken to view the poor as failing in acting on their capabilities. Instead, it is our failure to guarantee the freedom to live their good life. Money in this society is a critical measure of liberty, and widening economic inequality is the measure of widening disparities of freedom. A system built not to contain, therapeutically or otherwise, not to manage, measurably or otherwise, but instead to invest in people, bolstered by investment in the communities that welcome and hold them, would yield a significantly different result. Instead of his container, an investment in Raif and his belonging to a community would leave him standing in a very different place. A share of the various public dollars used to surveil and restrict Raif's freedoms as a child and to this day would measurably increase his freedoms and broaden his possibilities rather than confine him. Raif has a heart big enough to swallow a room. Yet, Raif's superpower is not seen or welcomed in the formal system. A community could embrace Raif and his superpowers. Instead, in his own words, government programs and services made him into a file and defined his life in terms of negative statistics. Embodied capabilities, sometimes nurtured from years of suffering and languishing in care systems, are a source of power at the individual and community levels. Instead of focusing on 'brokenness,' we focus on what to build instead. We must recognize that the embodied capability, and even recognition of it, is not the challenge. Raif's self-acknowledged skill of demolishing things with exact knowledge and appreciation of what might we build instead is a place of beginning. Communities around the
country can synergize by welcoming individual gifts and embodied wisdom, offering support and freedoms to members to develop their life of meaning rather than production and consumption. From File to Superhero Many have said that history matters; some have warned that those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it. But unfortunately, we are repeating history in present child welfare ‘systems.’ A return to the community- held knowledge of what grows strong people might return us to a biologically consistent, healthy culture. Understanding history begins with acknowledging the truth about history in the welfare state without the vernacular. Next, we restore power to the only vessel that can honorably hold it: the community and the wisdom of the people within it. Through community-driven service, economic support, and policy, community-based support is the way to that restoration. What is the white-hot center of it all of this? As it turns out, Lord Beveridge came to the answer himself in 1968, 20 years after implementing his welfare state design for England. In 1968, the last year of his life, he wrote a new report reflecting what had failed in his ideas. The heart of his previous report was acknowledging his mistake was leaving people and relationships out of his design. Instead, he had focused on delivery, efficiency, and cost containment. There was no invitation to Beveridge for a tour across America or invitation to the White House. Instead, America had launched a new war effort, a war against Beveridge's ideas in his first report, the Five Giants and the poor that embodied them. 21 Understanding the history of the American welfare state since the end of World War II ______________ 19 Hilary Cottam. “The Welfare State: The Fatal Flaw.” Radical Help How We Can Remake the Relationships between the US and Revolutionise the Welfare State , Virago, London, 2019, pp. 201-202. 20 Sen, Amartya Kumar. Development as Freedom . Oxford University Press, 2001. 21 Cottam, Hilary. “The Welfare State: The Fatal Flaw.” Radical Help How We Can Remake the Relationships between the US and Revolutionise the Welfare State , Virago, London, 2019.
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