Monday, December 11, 2006

Just thinking

I don't know what it is about this time of year that always makes me think of how wasteful most of us tend to be. I mean face it, most of us are really pretty spoiled. We have warm homes, not always the house of our dreams or what we wish we had but generally safe, warm, clean and comfortable. We have decent clothing, again not always the spectacular attire we would drool over at the mall or in a catalog but enough to cover us warmly and modestly. We have plenty to eat, not prime rib every day and sometimes we have to do without the little goodies that we would like to have but we eat plenty. I could keep going on but I won' wouldn't do any good. Most of the people I have ever known are very defensive when they feel that they are told that they may have anything at all in excess of what they actually need to have.

This time of year more than any other time I think of all those people who are not sitting in their warm and cozy homes with a full belly and decent clothes. They are not waiting to see what wonderful surprises they will receive on Christmas morning, they aren't even making out a wish list. They are simply doing the best they can to get by, to keep on existing and that's all. They see people who live the way that we do as wasteful and selfish and very poor stewards of all the wonderful blessings that we've received.....and whether or not we want to acknowledge it they are right. This time of year more than any other we should be more aware of the needs of those around us not less. The fact that little Junior or Suzy have a christmas list as long as your arm doesn't diminish the very real needs that go untended around us.

This time of year I think of the young woman I met a few years ago. She was living in her car with three young children. No, she was not a junkie and she didn't drink. Her husband had left her, he ran off with another woman. During their marriage she had not been allowed to work and when he left he didn't leave her with anything but the remainder of that months rent paid and a few groceries in the cabinets. She sold all of the furniture and household stuff that she couldn't store anywhere and got a job at a truck stop waiting tables during the day while the little ones were at school. Then she got sick, she came down with pneumonia and wasn't able to work. Soon after that she was evicted and with no insurance it had taken the last of her money to get the antibiotics that she needed. So she lived in her car. I was always amazed that she still managed to get the kids to school, they were always clean and ate fairly decently.....the things I learned from her I still consider a blessing to this day. She never and I mean NEVER complained and neither did her children. She eventually found another job and thanfully this one had health insurance and she got a nice place to live and went back to school so that she could do better for her children. How many of us could make it through something like that let alone keep a good attitude all the while and teach our children such wonderful things in the process as being content and not complaining and that hard work pays off?

Some people don't feel the need to be concerned about those who don't have what they need because they throw all sorts of rationalizations into the conversation like: " If they wanted to live a better life they could" or "Why don't they get a better job" or "If it was me I would..." Well, it is really easy when you are on the outside of a situation or set of circumstances to pass judgement on the problems that other people face in life. I personally know people who have lived (some still do) with no indoor plumbing or electricity. Could they change that, yes and no.

One couple I know of who are currently living in a self built cabin with no plumbing or electricity are really incredible people who have determined to live their lives without debt. They bought their land and built the cabin then very soon after found out that they were expecting their first child. The lady...we'll call her Katherine, worked until just a few months ago but her job was very physical and she had to quit for her well being during the pregnancy. They are in the process of finishing their home but with less income now and a baby it's likely to take them awhile longer than what most of us would tolerate. They are not complaining or asking for handouts or even the littlest bit unhappy. They see it as working up to what they want to have in life and even believe that the are following scripture in obtaining a proper home for their family.

Some would say, well that's all well and good, those people have chosen their circumstances. That may be true but there are so many more who haven't. I think of the children living in homeless shelters...what choice did they make that landed them there? What about the kids living in mental hospitals because the madness of the lives of the adults in their lives drove them into a madness all their own? What about the many many families in our country who are without homes or food of medical care or even other less pressing needs because of job layoffs and company downsizing and the many jobs that have been shipped across the border suddenly leaving them without income. Not everyone in need fits in a nice little box that our society can label and find blame for either, there are those folks whose circumstances are so awful that we simply cannot understand them. Shouldn't we do more, especially this time of year to reach out to someone or several people to just show love and kindness?

I am alarmed at the selfishness that I see all around me everyday...but never more than now. Why are so few of us willing to sacrifice that extra little something that we wanted for ourselves and give to someone who truly has a NEED? I know for a fact that the majority of us could probably cut our grocery budget in nearly half if we really wanted to and still eat very well from a health standpoint. The majority of us could stand to lose a few pounds but still refuse to fast or even cut back on our own intake and find a better purpose for that portion of our spending. And everyone I know eats out on frequent occasion.....what if we gave even part of that portion of our spending to someone in need?

Anyway.....I know plenty of folks who do have very real and very valid needs....I think most of us either know someone or can simply look around and find a person who obviously has a need. The question is what will we do about it? Anyway....I was just thinking.

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