24 May 2014

Are You Today's Publicani?

Since the economy took a turn in the mid 2000's quite a lot of people's lives have been disturbed.  Some have lost their jobs, others their homes and still others their minds and their very lives.  You may have read about a suicide that stemmed from a man jumping to his death after losing his job, wife and home... perhaps in that order.  Perhaps the fear of not living like the ideal we see every day in advertising, or on teevee or in the movies was so powerful that to end up asking or begging for money and food was not a place that particular man wanted to go.

Since interest is demanded on debt and the interest amount is never made or circulated into the economy but only the principle debt amount, many experienced the product of the sifting economy by seeing the closing or selling of businesses and the subsequent fallout from the boom and bust cycle of this 'modern' economy: layoffs, consolidation of markets, late credit card bills or mortgages in arrears, foreclosures, homelessness and more dependent than independent people. 

I would assume that most working people have a short view of the bigger picture of how the economy 'works' ( I use that word not to say it does in fact 'work' but to use it like using the word 'acts' ), they don't realize how actions and reactions occur when the focus is making $2.00 out of $1.00 when only $1.00 exists.  What happens in the process of this 'act' or action is that people's labor is sifted and turned into that extra dollar, but that dollar quickly runs through the laborer's hands and ends up in the pockets of they who 'own' ( or have title and right to ) land, business and other machinations of Babylon ( the 'modern' economic world structure and the things many fawn after and work so hard to buy ).

Just this week ( and I share this not to boast but in an attempt to simply share my experiences with you in order for me to learn and grow but also to somehow teach others about life and perhaps encourage you, the reader, to experience life on a deeper level ) I had two different experiences when speaking with two individuals who apparently were down on their luck ( or have fallen out of the empire's mechanism, that which some have killed themselves over ).

They both were women.   One asked me for something while the other had not.

I was having dinner with my wife at a new small privately owned restaurant when a woman walks by ( we were the only two dining in the restaurant and the entire wall of that strip mall is windows, it was near closing time ) and calls out to us for our attention.  I turn around, having seen her looking my way as she came past the first door and spoke to us through the second door, and I ask her what she would like.  She responded quickly with "three dollars."  I asked if she would prefer some food.  I thought about asking her to join us or asking if she wanted me to order her something from that place.  Before I was able to decide and proceed with whichever question / offer I should make next, she said she'd like a burger.  I responded that I can get her something like a plate from this place, but she quickly nodded in the negative and said she would prefer a burger rather than food from this establishment.

We exchanged back and forth some offers and what was negotiating was that she would rather have the cash than make me go out of my way to get her that burger.  I said it wouldn't be a problem and that as soon as my wife and I were finished, I'd be happy to get her that burger.

I have a choice in what I do with my words, thoughts, actions, money and time and so forth.  You also have a choice in what to do with yourself and your things.

I have chosen to give the real instead of the fake.  I give my attention, my words, my smile and actions in the form of something I think is real ( food or clothes, for example ) instead of the money that almost every person has their eyes on.  From my experience, I have chosen to go out of my way to give the food if in fact the person is hungry rather than giving them money, for some who ask for food or money actually desire to buy other things... and although I cannot forecast what they will buy with the paper money or control their choices, I know in doing my part ( thinking about being responsible while still having a conscience and loving these brothers and sisters of ours ) I have chosen to go about my 'giving' in this manner... and may God bless your choices as well!

The burger place she desired to get a burger from was quite a distance and she again proposed the idea of me just giving her the money and she would cease to be any trouble.  I said I and my wife can go drive there and bring back her meal / order if she would be fine with that.  She asked if she can come along for the ride, to which I obliged.

In the car I can smell the alcohol on her breath as she told us a bit about herself, her upbringing and her life.  She said she was staying at a sober living place nearby.  After changing pleasantries before parting and learning that her dad was a minister while she was growing up and she was the youngest of four, she stepped out of the vehicle with her meal and we went our separate ways.  I always make it a point to mention the Holy One, but I try not to do this in a religious manner or a contrived way as one would experience from being handed a tract or hearing someone yelling on a street corner about God and about going to hell.  Yet somehow, the conversation always leads itself to a point where we both agree there is a God and that we both should be grateful that we are alive at that very moment... for in realizing this, we also realize that God is still sustaining us and has blessed us thus far on our life's journey.... or something like that, it is never the same twice and these are examples of some things we talked about.  The name she gave me was Billy.

The second person I reached out to came about in a completely different way and I was taught a much deeper lesson on life and circumstance.

My wife and I travel a particular route to and from the freeway we use to get home and I have noticed an umbrella propped up adjacent to an alleyway on the road we travel.  There's this chair with its back to the road and an umbrella having its 'back' or top to the road with someone sitting there every time I've passed by.  There are also quite a few things like boxes and bags to the side of the chair and umbrella.  The first few times I figured it was someone who works at one of the shops there and they sit there during the day watching people come and go... but also late in the evenings I would see the same sight and still someone sitting there although all the shops are closed.  I later figured it was a homeless person and this was their home / resting place.

So one evening after dinner this week we had gathered the food we didn't finish at a restaurant and I prayed in my heart / mind for God to reveal someone to give the food to as we walked back to the car... we didn't see anyone.  As we traveled in the car, I again held the same notion in heart and mind and we both looked for someone as we traveled back to the house.  Still no one.  I then remembered the sight of the person under the umbrella I've seen on several occasions and mentioned it to my wife and she affirmed it would be a good idea to travel off the path home to give that person this tasty meal.

As I pulled over, I noticed one of the building's doors across the sidewalk between this person's chair / umbrella and the building was to an alcoholics anonymous meeting which was just letting out, and the sidewalk had quite a few men standing around with smiling faces, shaking hands and they seemed refreshed from having participated in that night's meeting ( I have gone to a few of these in support of someone years ago, and although I surely could have been a member, I realized the strength these meetings have and the love and support one finds there if they are open, ready and willing to fully participate ).

I don't like to do these kinds of things for an audience to see, but the timing was off with a crowd present yet I wasn't about to go find someone else away from watchful eyes, so I proceeded to walk over to this person under the umbrella.  When I peered below the umbrella I figured they were asleep, for their sweater's hood was covering their face completely.  I noticed also the sandals and socks they were wearing and also that their ankles seemed a bit swollen, perhaps from sitting there for long periods of time.  My heart sank a bit.  I lightly brushed their leg with the bag in hand to get their attention and I happened to startle them.  I said I was sorry to have woken them up and frightened them, but I wanted to give them this meal that was tasty and still very warm... I also stated I've passed by before and wanted to stop and say hello and tonight I had the chance to do so.  She immediately said she didn't want it.  I tried again to speak with her and offered to leave it there beside her if she happen to change her mind... and she again said she didn't want it.  She looked afraid and never looked up to my face.  I felt bad and not sure if I was doing more harm than good or if I was 'trying' too hard and should just make an 'about face' and leave.  The men there who were watching and listening seemed to know her, for they said she never accepts food and that she wouldn't be taking it.  I began to get a bit emotional... as I am now typing this out.

I decided to leave it there at her side and asked her if she happened to see someone who would like it she could give it to them... as I began to leave I heard one of the men say "God bless you" and I also said "God bless you" out to her and to them standing there.  I failed to ask for her name.  I walk away and back to my wife waiting in the vehicle.  My wife asked me how it went and I told her... and thoughts of economy, interest, foreclosure, layoffs, alcoholism, drug abuse, broken homes, physical and mental abuse flooded my mind as I began to ponder what could have befallen that seemingly young and fragile woman to be there at that corner, her umbrella situated near the curve with an alley to her side. 

I prayed.

Again, I share this not to toot my horn but to say that many are the reasons, mostly unknown or unfathomable, as to why there are people either living on the street or living in shelters while still making bad decisions... but I wonder: is it the believer's job to make sense out of all this, or the Publicani's vocation to scientifically figure out the reasoning behind society's broken people and culture?  Instead, I realize it is my personal duty to act.  To put my faith into action.  To feed the hungry, house the homeless, clothe the naked, visit the prisoner, praise His Holy Name and point to Him regarding each and every occasion, whether good our troublesome.  

To finish this entry, I want to share one more experience I had this week as I walked towards the downtown area of the city I currently reside in.  I was headed to a coffee shop to sit down, have a coffee and open up my laptop and do my usual thing online.  I pass this young man and woman requesting donations for a non-profit they volunteer / work for that feeds, houses and treats poor children in eight countries, including the U.S. of A.  The young gentleman had a thin beard and identified with my heavier beard and opened with "your beard says you care about children" to which I laughed inside but kept a straight face ( I always have a straight face when people begin a pitch to ask for money, lol ).

His name was Chris.  He goes into all the wonderful things the organization does and the great need of the children and how I can participate in helping them.  I ask how much does the management take from the proceeds: 17 percent, showing me a figure of 83% going to the children's needs.  This opens a near 20 minute discussion, mostly me preaching ( and complaining ) about politics, empire, system.. all surrounding the notion of "the right to land" and that these children, their parents and even us standing there do NOT have a right to land.  I make the example that if these children and their families had a right to land, they had a way to grow food, have animals and thus 'feed' themselves and not be in the predicament they are in.  They would have something to show for their laborious effort and can participate in the economy instead of being sifted by it.  I made the point that even us two, living in the city and not having land but simply paying tribute to someone to exist on the land, also must do things in order to make a piece of paper go through our hands and later to hand to someone else in order to get food into our stomachs.

I expressed to him in so many words that the system is made by men to exact and sift people of their labor in exchange for 'things.'  The viable and needed real thing is land and this is not available for people to feed themselves, but is instead utilized in ways to make money on the backs of the world's population... with very few people reaping the benefits of supporting such a system; the modern empire system.  He agreed.  I added that, to the believer, this is allowed by God Almighty... and that there is a reason behind it, not as if God is incapable of doing something about it or gets a kick out of seeing people suffer.  I then shared what I and my wife are planning on doing about it and that we are near getting ready to leave the 'empire's plantation' very soon.  He seemed to appreciate the chat we had... and still asked if I could pay something on a monthly basis.  I said to throw money at a model that doesn't address the foundation of the problem is contributing to a model not working towards a solution, but only pushing a temporary treatment which must be continued, without addressing nor curing the issue.  I reiterated that the issue is the absent "right to land" and the very model he is working for will continually need to be sustained by contributions... and these contributions are eventually eaten up by management and paid into the greater machination ( governmetn schools, vocation efforts and all that sifts mankind of their labor to continue strengthening an empire that reinforces the problem instead of getting people back on the land ).  I shared with Chris a few recent documentaries I saw about natives in the rainforests of Peru and Brazil.  These people lived there without issue and utilized everything the forest produced without depleting the resources.  They live in harmony with creation... yet empire was encroaching upon them with the 'big idea' of building roads and highways through their territory... and assimilating them into what is considered the 'modern age' of getting a job and forsaking the lifestyle they've enjoyed for centuries.

These people in the rainforest have and are already free!  They don't have the modern diseases nor the modern trappings of the city life, yet some who consider themselves intelligent desire to remove them from the forest and 'civilize' them.  Why does the guy living atop the tall building in the city think those in nature are missing out on something?  Is it not the one with the myopic view from the polluted city scape that is blind to the peace and harmony with nature the forest person enjoys?

I also mentioned to him Tom's Shoes ( to which he excitedly mentioned they are a partner in his company's efforts ) and also the efforts like that of Elon Musk's with solar energy and electric cars; two examples of the mind and heart of people that are making a better alternative to the old model of doing business, but still the bigger picture and solution of the individual person being able to grow their food is still the very rug that is not present for people to stand on... it instead is the rug that has been pulled out from under the world's people in order to get them to work and support an empire.

Learn about what money really is.

Learn about who Today's Publicani is.