Monday, September 2, 2013

Taking responsibility

Why is this country, nay the world, in an economic crises? Why is it that we have so much abundance, yet so much sickness, poverty and suffering?

In general the religious answer is that people need to repent. If you are not generally religious it still makes sense that when people in general act in a dog, eat dog way and make poor choices, in fact the entire country gets to a point where people have no sense of personal responsibility along with a covetous and greedy attitude, it means trouble.

I was thinking about this today as I had two differing experiences. First of all I was in a wholeistic doctors office where the receptionist made a general comment about how enjoyable it was to work there because their clients were happy people. She said, “(you know), those people who take responsibility for their health take responsibility for their lives in other ways…” I tend to agree with that statement, it makes sense to me.

Then ironically, since I am frustrated by this next bit, I went to apply for government assistance with our utility bills.

Sitting in the government agency building where people come to apply for the food bank and utility assistance, the most prevalent sensation is that of grime. I used to bring hand sanitizer with me, when I would go to government offices because they somehow always end up seeming grimy to me. Then there is the prevalent smell of cigarette smoke, and generally the people sitting in government offices applying for assistance are people who have problems, self control problems, mental problems, weight problems, job problems, in the case of the immigrant families problems speaking English and discrimination. So I was thinking about something while looking around at the smokers, the druggies, the large and the small, the immigrants. Each of us had gotten there through the use of decisions and consequences in our lives, and I certainly didn’t feel any inclination to feel like I was above the others because I too was sitting in a government office applying for assistance with my utilities. I too had made decisions that brought me to that point. I too had to live with the consequences.

Am I different? Yes my choices have been different, but I have also failed in big way’s and in small. This world is hard to navigate, it is hard to fully see the consequence of our behavior. I think that it is fair to say that even if there is not a God, though I believe in God, that the things that have traditionally been considered “sins” per say are the very things that lead to the negative consequences that we are dealing with.

Greed, avarice, indulgence, sexual promiscuousness, alcohol, smoking, laziness, idleness (same thing), all of the traditional vices are the logical objects of blame for the situation that we are in. For if people are not willing to take personal responsibility, then there is no way to regulate the effects on other people and for that matter the world.

What gets to me about the attitude of my siblings (older brother excepting) is that they think that nullism is funny, and this is the attitude that is fed our children regularly and generally through the television. I can see the appeal of it, entertainment wise, but it is sending the wrong message. Really what is funny about idiocy, of self indulgence and permissiveness? Not much when it leads to a nation of overweight, self indulgent, people who cannot be trusted to accept responsibility for the decisions that they make. It is not funny, in essence we are making ourselves slaves of convenience, and I argue almost anything that is made for “convenience” sake, i.e. plastic bags, paper plates, fast food, t.v. dinners, self stable milk… it is all going to lead to the un-thoughtful consequence of ruining lives.
It makes me think about the thoughtful peoples of the earth, those people who used to be in charge, who respected themselves and the earth. Like the American Indians, indigenous peoples. They cared, they used everything that they were given, the whole buffalo as it were and they did not disrespect the earth and animals in general. Maybe that is one of the currents that runs through our people and country because now that I think of it there have always been lawless people who would go around killing buffalo, wolves etc. just for the heck of it. I guess that the streak has had its way with us, and now we have the difficult consequences to deal with, everyone does.

What can we do? I guess the only thing is to take a look at what we consider to be funny, what we allow ourselves to do, and gauge how much respect that we have towards ourselves, the earth and others. Then taking action to change and rid ourselves of the vices that have brought us to this point. Responsibility, that’s the answer.


Finding Pam said...

As a former director of a food pantry I have seen a lot. There are two types of poverty. Situational and generational poverty.

My sister is staying with us because she lost her job due to illness. She is on food stamps and has applied for utility assistance as well. She is a well educated single woman and has always taken care of herself. She is in situational poverty. Most will recover and will get off assistance.

Then you see families that have been on assistance and aid for generations. They have little education, work minimum wage jobs, and this attitude in thinking is passed down from mother to daughter, father to son. They seem
duplicite in their wants and needs. This is generational poverty. Most will never recover or get off assistance.

It is hard to understand poverty, even harder to not judge people in that state of emergency. I saw desperate people that did drugs, prostitution, abuse, but then I also met little elderly women that had no form of income thanks to the government, that had to make tough choices between food and utilities or medicine.

These people are the least, the lost and the last and forgotten people of the world. My job was to lift them up, pray for them and to give them a little food. For me, it became a ministry. There are a few people that expect this help over and over and believe that they deserve, but for the most part, these people were on tough and hard times.

I learned a lot about my capacity for love, unconditional love for total strangers that I soon learned to love and care about. It is so touching to see those without helping someone else without. They are truly amazing and they get it. This is what Jesus meant to love one another.

A word to you, my little strawberry girl, please do not be so hard on yourself. Don't judge yourself. Pray never ceasing as I do for you too,and do not give up. You are young and your life will turn around in time. Have faith and know there is a God who loves you so very much. You will find a job in time. Take care and keep your spirits high.

Strawberry Girl said...

Thank you Pam, I appreciate the further insight into what is going on. I think that the hardest thing is to see so much suffering and to not know why it is occurring. I talked to many of the people there, and most of them are good honest people caught in some kind of cycle that is hard to get out of. I saw a hopefull article about people who owe more on their houses that the houses are worth and the article was asking if they would bail. Most of them would not, so at least that is a good sign. I also get situational poverty, that is my situation. What is frustrating is that three years ago we had two cars paid off and were starting to get money in our 401 (K), now our truck is gone, we sold the jeep that we owned to the dealer to buy our Yukon and now owe $9,000 + on it. Hindsight is 20/20 and I can see all of these little mistakes that I have made. Then I think, oh please let my children get a little more sense to work just a little bit harder. My little daughter got behind somewhere in school on spelling and math and now she is embracing the attitude of stupidity. The attitude that has my little sister home everyday, failing her classes, with no way to make it up and I know she is smart!! It makes me mad that all kids get on TV are shows exhaulting idiocy and junk food. I try not to let my kids watch it or eat junk food but my message conflicts so greatly with what is accepted as "normal," that my kids look at me as a weirdo. I guess I just get frustrated. Thank you so much for your thoughtful comment.