Giving back to the community

by Tina Louise

Tina is volunteering her time with a local school that teaches its students not only the educational basics, but the basics in farming, agriculture and self sustainability.

She’s on a committee that is going to throw a fundraiser for the school.

The students at this school grow a lot of their own food in a garden on their grounds. They keep hens for eggs. They aren’t allowed to have sugary foods, snacks or soda.

Next to the hooks for their bags, the students have a hole to place their reusable water bottles that they are required to keep.

When it’s a child’s birthday, they don’t celebrate with a cake. They have fresh fruits and low-sugar treats.

The school generates so little trash that their trash pickup is only twice a month.

As business owners and as active parts of our communities, we feel it’s necessary to contribute our time and resources to causes like these, and it makes me proud Tina’s chosen this one.

Education for sustainability

Tina’s last meeting, she took the train downtown. On the way, she said she sat beside an older African American gentleman.

“He had the kindest face,” Tina told me. “I wanted to take his picture. I wanted to take him home with me.”

During the train ride, a young, white man entered through the doors that divide one car from the other. It’s quite common. He was shaved bald, tattooed and looked like a gang member.

With his head buried in his chest, he shouted out to everyone, “I don’t know if anyone’s listening to me, but I got kicked out of my house. I’m homeless and I need help. My dad’s an alcoholic and he thinks I’m a piece of shit,” the kid said.

The spiel was longer. The kids said he lives in a train station. He said he wants to buy a bus ticket to his cousin’s house who lives outside the city. It’s $18, but he can’t afford it.

“If anyone’s listening, and you’re probably not, because I’m a stupid piece of shit … I just need some money if you can spare it.”

Tina said his self deprecation was heart breaking.

The gentleman beside Tina got up after the young man finished his speech and walked over to him. Tina watched on as the man whispered to the kid for a few moments. The kid nodded his head and the man turned and sat back down by Tina.

Without asking, the gentleman explained to her that he has seen the same kid on the train several times. And more than once, he told the kid that he could call 311, and they would connect him to a social services organization that would pay for him to take a bus to his cousin’s house.

“As long as there is a person on the receiving end that can vouch for that location, they will purchase the ticket for him,” explained the man.

Safety nets

The gentleman told Tina that he knows this information from experience. He also explained to Tina that he was once homeless himself. He explained he fought his own demons. He’s not proud of it, but if it weren’t for the safety nets available to him, he wouldn’t have been able to get off the streets, out of the gutter, and clean himself up.

Now he’s got a job. And he’s a kind soul who wants to give back.

Referring to the kid on the train, the gentleman told Tina, “I’ve told him this information several times. He doesn’t want help. He wants money.”

I want money, too. Don’t you? 

The whole idea of welfare and government handouts is a personal one for me.

I have (at least) two family members who qualify as disabled who accept government help. These same family members live with their parents, and their parents are vocally conservative and anti-Obama. And yet, if it weren’t for these government institutions, the quality of my loved ones’ lives would be much poorer.

This is the weirdest cognitive dissonance in the world to me.

How many hundreds of thousands of people benefit from government help? Not everyone has parents and family who can house people like my family. Many need housing on top of the food stamps and disability.

It is my honor and my duty to live in a country where opportunity extends through the poorest among us.

Does the corporate executive deserve the fortuitous life of $500 dinners or even $10,000 dinners supporting their favorite politician while my family members can barely afford a TV dinner, a new outfit or a gift to give their loved ones?

Grace should be extended to everyone. Regardless of if they’re on drugs, destitute, or not willing.

It makes me sick that the most vocal voices I know that advocate grace for all, especially the downtrodden, emit from the liberal side.

Tough love, conservatives say.

Tough love is a camouflage for indolence and disdain.


2 thoughts on “Giving back to the community

  1. “Grace should be extended to everyone. Regardless of if they’re on drugs, destitute, or not willing.”

    Can you elaborate on this statement? I’m thinking really hard about this post of yours and I’d like to hear more on this thought of yours.

    1. To that point in particular, I’ll try to clarify.

      Keep in mind, I’m grossly generalizing and simplifying people in America who are criticized for suckling the teat of other Americans’ good graces and drying out the nations resources with their addictions or by issues associated with their addictions (alcohol, cigarettes, drugs, sex, etc).

      From the conservative camp, there is a common criticism of poor people, that they’re either too lazy, too poor, too drugged, too stupid, or too fat to lend a hand, to not embarrassingly put strain on the economy and our government resources.

      And perhaps from your standpoint by way of T, the police are burdened heavily by the demographics I’ve mentioned above.

      And if T had more time to deal with big picture rather than piddly, cumbersome, repeat delinquents or complaints from the same people, he and his colleagues could accomplish better things.

      Should everyone get a job and not put strain on government resources (e.g. police, social services, etc).? Should everyone pay their fair share of taxes? Yes. Yes. Yes.

      But they don’t.

      We live in a culture drowned out by the voices who say if people had Jesus, or they weren’t lazy, or they weren’t mental, or they weren’t drugged, oh the utopia it would be.

      Yet, Jesus himself said the poor will always be among us.

      I’m heaping the police infrastructure into the gamut of government support systems who are over burdened but they are necessary to a lively, thriving, graceful, productive throughput of resources.

      To the bigger picture, I don’t think people need Jesus. I think we need more science to help explain and remedy why some people need more help than others.

      I think we need more science to find ways to help from the standpoint of cognitive science. A healthy, thriving scientific community could contribute to betterment of society, but the untold zillions of people oppositional to science restrict, stymie and unbalance the possibilities of progress.

      Again, that’s a HUGE generalization.

      This response is already too long.

      But I have a flipside idea as well.

      Who is to say that the rich aren’t the burden?

      I mean, so they don’t suckle the teat of government like the needy welfarians. So the police don’t make return trips to their mansions every friday night.

      I’m wealthy enough to hire an accountant who can help me with my income in good ways. But I don’t make all that much money. I have no idea how we’re going to retire on our income, but I’m damn sure I’m going to fucking do it.

      People like Mitt Romney and even my loved ones back when they made tons of money, used accounting to hide money from the government and to not pay their fair share. Why? Because they’re greedy (such is the human condition) and they can get away with it.

      Who’s better? The guy who makes a paper trail because he’s on drugs, or the guy who pays someone to hide his paper trail because he’s a greedy?

      The American dream, to me, isn’t financial success. The American dream is establishing a family and not working your ass off so hard that when you finally retire, if you make it that old, that you don’t know where the last 65 years of your life went.

      The American dream is being able to enjoy the short life you’ve got.

      So to put it simply, I believe in supporting a government infrastructure that includes police, social services and help for all needy people regardless of their efforts or intentions, religion (or none) or mental stability.

      Hope that helps.

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