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Mar 04, 2006 05:33 # 42151
I'm not really in a very cynical mood - not at all feeling down, or hopeless. Sure, school is blah sometimes, sometimes I'm bored or clueless - but overall, I'm feelin fine.
Which is good, because my quality of life could have saved a lot of lives.
It should be no surprise to you that thousands of kids die daily from either starvation or easily treatable disease. Why they die is also very straight forward: they, and those around them, cannot afford to save their lives. Now, in one sense, no one really has any obligation to give them the money they need to survive. I for one am not the slightest bit bound or required to give them anything. On the other hand, if I - or rather my family, since much of what I use I do not own - were to donate all but the bare essentials, quite a few lives could be saved.
We have no obligation to make such a sacrifice. But the fact is we are capable. And chances are, you are also. But really, is saving those lives worth giving up the enrichment you recieve from your iPod, PC, new car, bigger house, new wardrobe, and tropical vacation? Of course not!
It's not your fault that you have so much more money, or so much more opportunity to make money. It's not your fault that they were born into absolute poverty or racked by curable disease. You personally? It's not at all your fault. However, it is conservatively estimated that a donation of $200 U.S. to an aid agency would save one life. But, like I said, not really worth giving up that money.
Especially when no one else is doing it: I feel kind of inadequate when I see people around me who obviously have much more disposable income; much worse than how I feel when I see people who have less. The latter almost makes me feel important.
"History is more or less bunk." - Henry Ford
This post was edited by Bunk on Mar 04, 2006.
Mar 08, 2006 08:10 # 42194
I've never read a more convincing argument to go work at the soup kitchen every Sunday. I'm calling my friend Moon, and suggesting that we go this Sunday. There is something about drowning your sorrows in helping other people that sounds like a nicer way of shoving your problems under the rug, than what most people do...including myself. While your helping someone else, all of a sudden your problems don't seem as insurmountable. I know this. Thanks for reminding me.
My mind is made up...not like my bed, which is a mess.
Mar 09, 2006 02:51 # 42205
Your words were unabashedly poignant, all because they are so true. I imagine anyone visiting this site lives a relatively comfortable lifestyle, and while that lifestyle affords us the opportunity to discuss the harsh realities others face, do we really want to risk our lifestyle in order to improve theirs? While I'm sure many would quickly reply that yes, they would make that sacrifice, it's so much easier said than done. If you were to take what the average American probably considers to be the bare minimum each person should be provided in order to live a reasonably "good" life, we would have to say the majority of the world's population is living a "bad" one.
So what shall we do? Will my personal sacrifice really make that much of a difference? There may be a good chance it will not, so should I do away with what I've been fortunate enough to receive, in order to raise one individual's life to a level I still wouldn't be happy with living? I'm not trying to be pessimistic, but it's how a lot of people's minds work, whether or not they are conscious of it. I too want to be a link that leads to change, but I'm still here typing this. I like the luxury of being able to log onto the internet (something the people we talk about saving know little about), have an intelligent conversation (something many third world locations don't really provide the tools for) with someone I don't know, and knowing I have the convenience of waiting for a response because I have no truly dire issues to tend to.
I don't want to make excuses for myself or others that can make a real difference, because I know we can. But like you said Bunk, are we willing to? You're right in saying that we're ultimately not responsible for those people, that's just how the ball rolls right? I criticize the state of affairs the U.S. and the world finds itself in, but its that very system that's allowed me to live with such amenities. Sure, we don't want anyone to have to suffer such a wretched way of life and it would be great if everyone could live the comfortable lifestyles people like ourselves do. But do we want to live in the world that has to exist before get to that level?
Mar 14, 2006 13:14 # 42271
Hey 2nd Motive, nice to see ya again. I remember your nice words when I was gone.:-)
But anyway, as far as what Bunk said, I think it comes down to what are we 'willing' to give? What will we actually, in reality parth with? Everything that you and Bunk said is so true. So that leaves us with deciding to something that we can handle and will feel comfortable with, and then going ahead and doing it.
So lets say that I would feel comfortable buying a $5 certificate to feed the hungry everytime I go to the grocery store. At the Dierberg's here in St. Louis, when you go through the checkout, you have that option. $1 or $5. It's not much, but if you shopped every week, and bought a $5 certificate, that's $260 a year. And it's manageable in small increments like that. It is so subtle that it doesn't make you feel deprived. And it's doable in this country and in most 1st World countries.
Or what about working at a soup kitchen when you really don't have money to part with, but you do have time? Or, if you're a student and can take the time off, or a teacher and can take sabatticals, you could sign up to work for the Peace Core. I've thought about it. I'd need to have things squared away with rent paid for several months to do something like that, and not be drilled with illness, but it's doable and way more rewarding than just giving money.
I think the hardest part about giving up cash, is that we're all human and we tend to want something in return for what we give, whether we should want it or not. That's just the way most of us are. Not everyone, but most. So doing something that gets you actively involved in helping the world or your community can bring you so much happiness as a sort of return on your investment of time. You can feel good directly about helping someone else, because your need to 'get' something in return is met.
And what do we have more than money in 1st world countries? Time. We have Time. We might think we don't, but we have way more than most do. We can give that. And we can give money as well, that we've made with our Time. But really, Time is at the core of it.
More importantly, it's a matter of what you will actually follow through on. Say your willing to donate $5 everytime you grocery shop. And yet, you think that that is such a cop out. It's not enough. So you talk yourself out of it because you think that you should do more. And as a result, you do nothing.
It's kind of like the story of the Zen teacher who asked his students how many mantras they would commit to chanting a day....and almost everyone said things like: "1 thousand, a hundred, 2 hundred...but one person said he'd commit to 1 mantra a day. He knew it was doable. The teacher told him that he was the only one who was ready to move further in his practice, because he realized what he was capable of, however small it was, and committed to it. It wasn't the quantity, it was the quality. The quality of truthfulness with yourself that allows you to actually do something however small.
If everyone committed to just a tiny amount, and I mean everyone, than no one would have to starve, really. If everyone did just a little, so little that it didn't really even affect them on a daily basis that would be enough. That is, if everyone did it. That's the key. It's the guilt of thinking that you should do so much more, that can stop you from doing what you actually could do and are willing to do. So it's about letting yourself off the hook, accepting that this tiny amount is all you are willing to commit to doing, and then doing it.
And the funny thing is, that the act of giving something, anything eventually snowballs, because the feeling of giving just that little bit can feel so wonderful that you just want to keep giving. It's like the Energizer Bunny on crack. Once you turn him on, he just keeps going and going and going....And all you really have to do is do something so small at first that it just seems insignificant. But it really isn't. It's monumental in it's capacity to generate more giving. And what you get back is immeasurable. It's priceless. Like they say, breaking off small chunks. And eventually, you might even be motivated to give your cherished iPod to someone who is really struggling, or not. But it doesn't matter, because giving only what you are willing to part with at first, is the key to being able to give more and more.
And please don't think, anyone, that I am just sitting on my perch thinking that I know everything. I don't. Not by any stretch. It's just me trying to convey something that I've been working on myself, and this is what I've learned in a short period of time. As in the last few days....
Scarcity mentality only creates more poverty. It's a mindset. Thinking of your life as so abundant that you have even just a tiny bit to give is what creates abundance. You will actually get back way more than you give, which feeds the human need to have more. It's a win/win situation, and it's one that I am learning to wrap my mind around. This is a new feeling for me, a new revealation. It's like money has been very tight again lately, and yet I've given so much away to strangers and to friends...and then comes along someone who just offers to do a crystal healing, someone who offers to do Reiki, someone who offers to give me a ride to get my car fixed. Someone who finally takes me off the schedule at work. And I didn't expect this, but I truly believe that all of these "gifts" are a direct result of being willing to let go of so many of the things that I own that aren't feeding me or paying my bills, and that others could use. It's another form of giving. You just do what you can, and then forgive yourself for not being able or willing to do more.
It seems as if it just comes with time, it comes with learning to be patient with yourself and everyone else. This is what I "think". It's not what I "know". And I'm not perfect, and tomorrow I may be in a bad mood and do or say something that makes me look like a hypocrite, but I'm trying...to give even the smallest amount when I have it to give. There are probably going to be days were I fall so far short it isn't even funny. I hope not, but reality is that bad days and bad attitudes happen; though, it doesn't mean that the good days and good attitudes were total bullshit. It just means that it's hard to change old habits. To think otherwise, and to expect otherwise of people is to be a perfectionist. And perfectionism is probably one of the worst little personal demons. The expectation to be perfect and for others to be perfect can cause so much grief and pain. It can actually stop people from becoming nicer and kinder human beings. It's like the quote on my girlfriend's bathroom cabinet: "Expectations are premeditated resentments."
As far as it goes these are just my thoughts which I really hope are true. They seem to be, though. Very much so. For what it's worth, take everything I've said with a grain of salt. It really isn't meant to be serious, just reflective. It's just me thinking out loud, and well, if it helps someone, then all the better. After all, so many people have been helping me, I'd like to give something back. Today, this morning, my thoughts on this subject are what I have to give, and am willing to give. Tomorrow, it may be my coffee table that I'm willing to give, or it may be $5 at the grocery store, or it may be a box of Thin Mints Girl Scout cookies.
I know I'm rambling, but here's a perfect example of not trying to be a perfectionist. Several years ago, while in Chicago, a homeless guy was begging for money. None of the people I was with would give him any. I didn't want to give him any either. But I turned around and went back to offer him a slice of my pizza from dinner. When I got back to my group they had the nerve to ask why I didn't just give him the whole box. Well, you know, I could have just stayed like them, unwilling to give anything...but I chose to give something. Yes, it would have been better to give him the whole box, but what I was willing to give was one slice. One slice. And I gave it. And it was enough for him and enough for me at the time. Better than giving nothing at all.
My mind is made up...not like my bed, which is a mess.
I appreciate the thoughts you shared because they were not only true, but motivational. This may be way off the topic and lack the importance of what we were originally discussing, but I think I'm also going to apply this "giving what you know you're willing to give" mentality...in the gym. Why the hell am I sharing this right? I don't really know why, but I've been trying to get into working out more seriously and it's funny because that exact mindset you described has prevented me from working out all together on a number of days. It's like, "I don't think I want to work out for an hour, so I'm not going to lift at all", which is sofoolish when you look at it.
Like I said, me or anyone else applying this mentality to exercise isn't in any way as important as people using it to help others who are truly in need, but the very attitude itself can be practiced in any endeavor. It's a simple creed to live by, but so many of us are ignorant to its potential. Thanks for sharing.
This is a beautiful post and I really don't have anything to add except for one small suggestion:
Whenever you have the choice, buy products with a fair trade and/or eco label. They cost a bit more, but in exchange you get:
usually better quality
no child or forced labour
less pesticides (fruit) and antibiotics (meat)
less ecological damage, since most such labels promote sustainable farming
the warm feeling that the producers of the goods are paid a fair price.
When life hands you a lemon, that's 40% of your RDA of vitamin C taken care of.
Mar 14, 2006 22:19 # 42277
(the draft for this was stuck in my waiting tray, while I was catching up on academic writing)
Great analysis, 2nd_motive. It's too bad you have to end with a question mark. :p
What is the answer? How do we resolve the gap between the role that society gives to us and the morality that society teaches? We can't, therefore one must be sacrificed. The logical choice, to screw morality, is obvious, and it's the one most of us take.
Rosy, you make a very honest and compelling point. Frankly, you're right, but I'm gonna go ahead and disagree anyway. I feel like sticking it to reality for a moment. ;-)
So you talk yourself out of it because you think that you should do more. And as a result, you do nothing.
Well, that's one possible result. But then again, you might decide that living in relative opulence while another human being starves to death is immoral. Let's suppose everyone decided that way. Then the world would change completely. With a fair sharing of wealth, everyone would live decently well.
Reality is what it is, and as you say, people are only human.
Practially, there's nothing necessarily wrong with the concept of everyone making a small contribution. But the reason that it might feel like a cop out, is because it IS a cop out.
You can feel good directly about helping someone else, because your need to 'get' something in return is met.
Sure. If you spend $200 and buy a relatively poor mother a new wardrobe for her kids, you will probably feel amazing. You'll see the smile on their faces, and the joy of giving will fill you to the brim. But then again, that $200 dollars given to a charity might save a person's life. You will never see that person, or know their name, but even the poor mother would agree that it's a better choice morally.
Furthermore, if you spend $200 and save one person's life, but spend another $2000 on things not directly related to your survival, then I must ask: what makes the one life you saved so much more important than the 10 you could have saved, but didn't?
It's astonishing sometimes, how much people let society dictate how they live their lives, instead of deciding what kind of society they want. Society is just people living. There's nothing mystical or magical about it. If everybody changed, the system would change.
And yes, I realize that for anything meaningful to happen, a LOT of people need to decide to change together. But that's the point of my post. It read like a statement, but in my mind it's a question: given the facts provided, do you feel that your way of life is moral?
If no, then either change your life or accept the immorality. If yes... then perhaps you can define morality for me. :p
Anyway, Rosy, take no offense. I don't mean to label anyone immoral, least of all you. I think it's beautiful the way you describe that giving is a healer. And maybe you're right, that small steps can build to something really meaningful.
I just wish sometimes that we could live lives that would never make us feel guilty, and wouldn't cause people to die for no reason, or make the earth unlivable. Doesn't everyone wish that?
"History is more or less bunk." - Henry Ford
Mar 15, 2006 08:35 # 42279
Yay! My computer let me log on through Firefox. I can't get on with my SBC, it's got some kind of wierd add-on thing. Figures. I'm about to donate this box of bolts, and it goes kerfluey. Oh well. Such is life. :-)
So back on topic, Phil, no of course I'm not offended. I totally hear what you are saying. I read between the lines in your original post, and saw what you were saying there too, I think? And you are so right, that doing only a "little thing" is a cop-out.....or it CAN be...that is if you do not let it spur you on to greater things. If you get stagnant, and happy with yourself for just doing that little. I think the real key is to always be striving, to never be stagnant like a pond. To always be moving like the river and the ocean.
So, doing a little thing should be what spurs one to do even more. ...so much more. If it does that, then it was a stepping stone out of the quagmire. If one, however, just sits on their little stone surveying everything and getting stagnant again, well, then it is totally a cop-out. As you said.
I'm glad you made that point, because what I said in response to you before could so easily be twisted by myself and others into a way to rationalize not doing more, after the initial attempt. Your disagreement is really much needed clarification.
I met someone once, y'all might have actually come in contact with him here...who asked me once why it was that I........(crap, crap! I almost burned my pizza! It's so tasty, homemade with Chihuahua cheese, tomatoes, spinach, basil and thyme.....um, um. I made a second one, cause Dad came by and I gave him all of the first one except one slice. Laugh if you must. ;p).....
Anyway, this dude, whom you might have 'met', asked me a rhetorical question. He said: "Why do you think, Heather, that people who are more enlightened than me want nothing to do with hanging out with me?" I stated the obvious: "Because you like where you are at on the spiritual path, you don't want to move forward. You're happy with the level you've attained." He replied that I was right; he knew the path that conversation would take anyway. So he's basically, in a roundabout way, proving what you have to say about all this.
It might be an oversimplification to narrow down what you said in response to the phrase:
Don't rest on your laurels.
...but I think it does explain it. And I totally agree. And even if I didn't agree, I like the way you phrased your response. You have the ability to 'couch' things without being abrasive. I could learn something from you.
But to pull something from way out in left field on this topic, besides what 2nd Motive said about going to the gym, which is so true....I found a blurb in a book about the vortexes at Sedona, Arizona that was talking essentially about not letting the bad shit get you down, and that the bad shit can sometimes be a spur that allows you to see so much more beauty in the world and in your life. I tend to think of my bad experiences in the last several years as the very things that have pushed me to become a better person. BUT, I could just let them make me hate the world, and then decide that no one but me's gonna take care of me, so fuck it. It's how a lot of people feel. It's all about number one. Even to the point that assholes who are purposefully assholes rationalize their assholey-ness [not a word, I know...?] by using the argument that it spurs you on to greater things as a justification for their assholiness. But here I am digressing. Sorry. ;p
But for me it isn't all about number one. Unfortunately, way more of it than I would like is. There are other people out there who need my help, and even if I don't think I have it to give, when the shit hits the fan, and I care about someone, I CAN pull it out of my ass. We all can. So, the key is to move beyond the capacity to care for those closest to you, to those who are just acquaintances, to those that you don't know at all. It's what I keep reading about in Buddhist Maitri practice, and Tonglen. And that last thing, the Tonglen practice, is the hardest actually....trying to carry it to the nth degree and care about people who have hurt you, or whom you don't 'perceive' to be deserving, or whom you'll never see...that's the toughie. I guess the ultimate thing is to be able to love and care about everyone unconditionally, and it takes baby steps to get there most of the time....but the baby steps shouldn't stop 5 feet into walking the path. It needs to go on and on and on...
The fact that you put up this thread, and we're continuing the conversation in this contemplative way is just so cool. This is exactly the kind of discussion that I'd like to have here. It just bums me out, that pretty soon I won't be able to log on as often. But what makes me happy is it gives me hope for the future in so many ways...so many.
Thank you for all of this Phil. :-)
My mind is made up...not like my bed, which is a mess.
Mar 21, 2006 03:10 # 42354
I was recently talking to a guy about the need for a higher death rate in the world.
It is interesting how two thoughts can be so different, and yet have the same basic purpose. Quality of life.
Fewer people are dying from diseases and famine, wars are becoming much less deadly (from 40000 dead soldiers in a year to 1000), old age isn't necessarily a nail in your coffin anymore because of longevity science, but people are still reproducing (with medical assistance and without) as if they need a brood of kids to work the fields.
Without the devestating (but not unnecessary) deaths of thousands of people around the world, we would be so overcrowded, the whole world would look like Japan. People on top of people on top of people. As it is now, much of the valuable farm land around my home town has been turned into houses, schools, shopping malls, etc.
I'm not saying that you shouldn't help those in need. I'm just suggesting that you shouldn't get over-sympathetic because some people need to die in order for the rest to live.
I like to help people, too. I just try not to carry the weight of the world on my shoulders.
People die. It's just part of living.
I am just me, searching for simplicity.........and a good hair stylist