Charity

Charity: (n) the voluntary giving of help, typically in the form of money, to those in need.

“I’m no charity case!”

It is a statement often flung in my direction when I’m attempting to be generous to someone who obviously could use some bolstering.

The statement is prideful statement, and unfortunately, doused in ignorance. For truly, there is not a soul among us who does not
occasionally require the charity provided by strangers.

In viewing my abundant life, there have been many times when I have possessed finance to fund an unnecessary, extravagant dinner–and also specific occasions when a dollar bill lit up and danced before my eyes because its arrival was truly divinely inspired.

If we go with the Old English definition of charity–which is love–the desperation each of us possesses to be loved is incomprehensible.

Denying it makes us look like foolish, pouting children.

Demanding it too often has the whiff of the charlatan.

So I have a simple saying in my life:

“May those around me who happen to arrive at just the right moment to come to my aid find me busy doing my best, unaware that they are on their way.”

 

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Brethren

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Brethren: (n) archaic plural form of brother.

“I’m doin’ it so my family can have a better life,” he said, being interviewed on one of the singing competitions so prevalent over the airwaves.Dictionary B

I was supposed to be moved by his sentiment. I guess the goal was to get me in his corner by realizing what a fine damn fellow he was for loving his wife and children.

But is that really special?

How basic is it for us to just express affection to those we marry or procreate?

Isn’t the music more important?

Isn’t communicating with others through melody and harmony the greatest aspiration?

I just think I would be very disappointed if Beethoven wrote his symphonies for “a gal and his young’uns.”

Somewhere along the line, we need people to step out of the box of family life, and begin to refer to those around them, who do not share DNA, as “brethren.”

You are my brothers and sisters.

The fact that you look different and come from unique regions only makes you more intriguing.

When we settle for our clan, our cloister and our clump, we are admitting that we have second thoughts about loving the stranger.

Since most of us are strangers to the rest of the world … we might want to reconsider our position.

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Barbarian

Barbarian: (adj) of or relating to ancient barbarians.Dictionary B

I wish I could report that the nervous, prejudiced and angry process of choosing up sides for basketball in gym class ceases after adolescence.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t.

There are too many people who should possess intelligence and courtesy who continue to follow that barbaric practice of alienating people based upon personal preference.

It causes us to make enemies instead of creating relationships.

We feel we strengthen our relationships by alienating others. Isn’t that interesting? We think by saying that we love “this group of people over here” more than “that group,” we intensify our commitment and affection.

No wonder it’s so difficult for us to believe the statement, “For God so loved the world…”

We think that makes God wishy-washy.

Doesn’t He realize that some people are barbarians?

Doesn’t He understand they are breaking His rules and therefore should be classified as damnable or at least second-class citizens? How can we feel good about ourselves if we don’t make other people feel bad?

There’s a simple statement which is slid into the Good Book which is often overlooked: “I am debtor to all.”

Honestly, folks, I can’t think of any place I’ve ever gone or any group of people I’ve ever met who did not teach me something. I may even have found them distasteful at first, but they still enlivened my palate.

  • They made me think.
  • They made me wonder.
  • Sometimes they were cautionary tales on what not to be–but I used their presence on Earth to make my world better.

There isn’t a race of people who at one time or another was not considered to be barbarians by those ruling over them.

The sooner we realize that the space we occupy is not holy, but rather, the fellowship we create with one another, the better off we will be in using this planet … to bless instead of curse. 

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Amber Alert

dictionary with letter A

Amber Alert: (n) an emergency response system that disseminates information about a missing person (usually a child) by media broadcasting or electronic roadway signs.

All right. Get ready to buy me the T-shirt.

I guess it should read, “I am an unfeeling, anti-American, cynical unbeliever.”

Maybe it’s because I’ve done some follow-up on the concept of Amber Alerts. Even though there are many television shows that make hay off of children being abducted by strangers who torture and murder them, most of the kidnapping of little ones in our country is done by either the mother or the father, who no longer love each other and have decided to turn the child into the hunk of meat which they steal from the barn and hustle away through the woods.

If it weren’t so sad and pathetic, it would nearly be comical. We have actually created a system of marriage in this country which at least half of the time ends up in divorce, while contending that when it comes to the realm of the children, the couple is still together–even though they’ve moved on to other relationships, and now, because of human nature, are trying to prove to the children that this person is now their enemy and how much better off they would be if they didn’t have that rotten sperm donor or womb carrier.

Did you follow that?

In other words, like we always do in this country, we think we can establish a family, destroy it, pretend that it still exists, and then act alarmed when one of the parents steals the child, which sends out an Amber Alert and makes everyone concerned about their own offspring, when it really is just a Hatfield and McCoy feud.

There are exceptions, and for that reason, the Amber Alert should not be removed from our everyday lives.

But keep in mind–most of these are people who are fighting with each other, who once made love and produced a child, who has become at times little more than a bargaining chip.

Here’s the real Amber Alert, and may it sound out over the airwaves and be flashed on the freeways:

If you’re going to have children, try to keep your marriage together, and if you don’t stay together, please remember–and Solomon was wise enough to know this:

You can’t cut a kid in two.

Agoraphobia

Words from Dic(tionary)

dictionary with letter AAgoraphobia: (n) extreme or irrational fear of crowded spaces or enclosed public places.

I think I have claustrophobia.

I didn’t used to–even though the brief time that I played football, I didn’t particularly care for pileups, where people would be on top of me.

But agoraphobia‘s different. Within the spectrum of being frightened of experiencing a lack of room and oxygen is also a fear of people. Matter of fact, we start it pretty young, don’t we?

  • We tell our children not to talk to strangers.
  • Within the first few years of their lives, we cloister them in an atmosphere with no more than five to seven people, making a trip to the grocery store seem like a perilous journey through the jungle.
  • We coddle our offspring and project our apprehension into them upon entering school–so much so that many of them do not recover from their agonizing trepidation of interacting with people their own age. They can become misfits.

I guess what concerns me is that a little bit of agoraphobia is inhabiting everybody in this country. Statistics tell me that about 34% of the people who walk down the street holding a phone are pretending they have a phone call, so as to not have to interact with others.

Not only is it annoying to text when other people are around, but it may leave you totally debilitated and vacant of the desire to be close.

I admit, it can be frightening to make eye contact with other humans, but the absence of that gesture of openness neither alleviates danger nor promotes congeniality.

There are probably people who suffer from this condition, but I do think we are changing the definition of the word “fellowship” in our society. It is now a keystroke on Facebook, with twenty-four characters expressing how handsome we think some child is or how pretty a new little dress may be. In fact, my oldest son told me that Facebook is the new church of America. He said it with certainty and a bit of resignation.

If it’s a church, I’m curious about where God is, where love is, where hope is and where faith can grow. Because to merely admire someone’s new bowling ball is not to strike up a new friendship.

I know I’ve veered off the subject a bit, and perhaps the condition of “agoraphobia” is a worthy topic for a writer and thinker much brighter than myself.

But I do believe we can avoid becoming frightened of each other by choice. To do so, we will have to come away from our computer screens, our smart phones and actually look into each other’s eyes again … and risk what we see.