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Day two of 21 habits of happy people has taken almost a full month to complete. How do I remain mindful, living in the present day, not focusing on the past or the future? How can you write around a single quote and remain mindful? We have four words today, “choose your friends wisely”
You don’t become what you want, you become who you hang out with or what you have learned to accept. This matters. How your friends act has an impact on how you will act. Be around people who will encourage you to do the right thing. Choosing your friends also is a reflection on how we feel about ourselves.
In the search that we go through to feel wanted or accepted or loved, we sometimes lower our standards and allow the wrong people to have influence in our lives. It’s important that you let the right people into our life, who offer a positive influence. In many cases, you may not know or understand what your real standards are because your are following someone elses bad, negative influence. Don’t allow yourself to be trapped by others because of your past.
Your friends can make you feel like a million dollars, full of worth and figuratively the richest person in the world. They can also make you feel like a piece of shit. I used to be very poor but with bank accounts full of money, I felt poor… empty. This is my history, following the bad influence merely for the sake of acceptance and a feeling of comradery. It was always a facade. I think many people have been left in a ditch with a knife in their back.
Friend drama follows family drama. We all pursue perfection in one way or another. Sometimes it is “repeating to perfection” whether that is a dysfunctional friendship to match a dysfunctional family or just being on the wrong path due to low self worth. How does someone from an abusive family often choose friends or relationships? The answer is relative to “repeating to perfection”. If dysfunction or abuse is all you know, this can be all you attract or are attracted to until perfection. This perfection can be pain, anger, physical abuse, self abuse and even death.
The perfect friendship is one where all you have to do is bring in yourself and reciprocally, you hopefully receive the same investment from a friend. You don’t have to remake yourself to become part of a group or in a single individuals life. You shouldn’t feel the need to impress someone or have any feeling of inadequacy. You should both like each other for who you are… not who you pretend to be or want to be. Friends should want to be your friend for who you are, not what you have… not who you want them to be. This can create a positive influence in your life… almost by accident.
You shouldn’t have to feel that you aren’t good enough. You should be accepted for who you are and by the same token, you don’t want to attract someone who will put you down, nor should you have any feeling of inadequacy or jealousy. A real friend pulls you up and keeps you from falling off a ledge. They don’t just stand there and watch. Friends build off of each other.
If you have no solid foundation in family, you are susceptible to friendships and relationships with no foundation at all. Friends are not for finding the right party or a popularity contest. Friends are for building trust, kindness, a nurturing relationship where one builds up the other, stands next to the other in times of trouble. There are plenty of fair weather friends… but the weather isn’t always sunny and 72, like my cave. When the weather isn’t fair, friendships crumble and fall apart.
Friendships should be primarily about mutual giving and not using or exploitation in one way or another. Friendships need to have some sort of common bond that holds it together. Think about what you value or… your values and see that they match in friendship. If a friends values do not match yours, you may end up doing things that you are not comfortable with personally.
Only you yourself can determine which of your friends (if any) are a healthy solid influence in your life. And only you can determine if the friendship has any value or serves a purpose other than momentary feelings of happiness or worth. Only you can make that value judgement and if there is no emotional value, it’s also up to you to make a friendship less relevant. There’s no need for more drama or pointing fingers… it just means that person or people need to change from friend(s) to associates and reduce the influence they have oer you.
When making new friends, you need to do so in total blindness, so nothing superficial has an influence over allowing better, healthier people into your life. Be the kind of friend that you want to be with… not the other way around. By doing this, you will attract what is right and healthy for you and a friendship. The key to this is being yourself.
So… here we go… “Choose your friends wisely” and be sure they have the same set of values as you. If you can sit across from or next to a person and not have to talk… just be… that’s a good start of a friendship. If you feel the need for liquid courage, perhaps you need to rethink the friendship. If your friend feels the need for liquid courage, that’s a sign for you. If you feel the need for liquid courage yourself… you’re in the wrong place.
“Living with integrity means: Not settling for less than what you know you deserve in your relationships. Asking for what you want and need from others. Speaking your truth, even though it might create conflict or tension. Behaving in ways that are in harmony with your personal values. Making choices based on what you believe, and not what others believe.” Barbara De Angelis
I take great pride in the accomplishment of keeping politics away from my facebook. Sometimes I just need to vent and hope and hope and hope, some people… some of my friends, will sit down and learn for themselves all of contemporary US history and not what you are told (repeatedly) by revisionists, entertainers on cable networks and terrestrial radio… all talking heads for commercial interests.
Many of you take a blog, just like mine… right here… this thing you are reading and reference it as gospel and newsworthy. Taking rhetorical quotes as factual. Taking one element of truth and creating a fantasy manuscript. This blog, my blog… is not news. It is opinion. My opinions is biased. Biased towards peace, love, happiness, coexistence, mindfulness, compassion among others. As I experience personal growth, my list of biases gets longer.
What I am writing here is biased and I’ll be the first to admit it. I dislike wing-nuts, but I do not hate them. I dislike ultra liberals, but I do not hate them. I dislike ultra conservatives, but I do not hate them. I dislike those in the so-called middle and their fabricated libertarianism, which is an abbreviation for freeloader, but still, I do not hate them, nor do I want to see them die on the side of the road, as they would watch you because of their self preservation/interest. I dislike anyone who hates. I dislike hate. I dislike the fact that innate hatred overpowers rational thought, but I don’t hate those who don’t think for themselves. I love all of you. I love having conversation with all of you, primarily so I can identify some of your character flaws that make you such a sucker… You are nothing but a heard of sheep.
I just happen to love people who do not follow strict party platforms. I love people who take each issue and vote based on fact or with their heart. I love people who vote for the greater good and not for the good of themselves. I love people who take action and do not only yell on the soap box. I love people who leave their gospel at home and vote as our founding fathers would want you to… with the absence of religious influence.
You follow and quote a fiction writer who creates an unrealistic hate filled world where it’s every man for himself. Ayn Rand… a jew… someone who many would just hate (not my word) if they knew just this simple fact of her religion. If they really knew the philosophy they follow is one that they actually know nothing about. I am John Galt is not I am Ayn Rand… in as much as The Book of Mormon (as dictated by aliens from outer space) is the same as The King James Bible (as written from rumor and innuendo by storytellers, generations after any possible eyewitness has been long deceased and before any other written word was penned). Do not argue with me about any of these books a) unless you have read them b) have them on a bookshelf or electronic device for reference. Knowledge is power and unfortunately, most people have no power. Not over their free will, their free thoughts or their freedumb.
The following opinion is reposted here with permission of it’s author, “The Minister of Truth”. His name is Jesse LaGreca and you can follow him on twitter @JesseLaGreca. You can also follow him at http://www.dailykos.com/user/MinistryOfTruth.
PLEASE, sit back in your Sunday easy chair and read.
An Open Letter to the People Who Hate Obama More Than They Love America.
“I meet you all the time. You hate Obama. You hate gay people. You hate black people, immigrants, Muslims, labor unions, women who want the right to make choices concerning their bodies, you hate em all. You hate being called racist. You hate being called a bigot. Maybe if you talked about creating jobs more than you talk about why you hate gay people we wouldn’t call you bigots. Maybe if you talked about black people without automatically assuming they are on food stamps while demanding their birth certificates we wouldn’t call you racist. You hate socialism and social justice. You hate regulations and taxes and spending and the Government. You hate.
You like war. You like torture. You like Jesus. I don’t know how in the hell any of that is compatible, but no one ever accused you haters of being over-committed to ideological consistency. You like people who look like you or at least hate most of the things that you hate. You hate everything else.
Now, I know you profess to love our country and the founding fathers (unless you are reminded that they believed in the separation of church and state), but I need to remind you that America is NOT what Fox News says it is. America is a melting pot, it always has been. We are a multi-cultural amalgamation of all kinds of people, and yet you still demonize everyone who is not a rich, white, heterosexual christian male or his submissive and obedient wife.
You hate liberals, moderates, hell, anyone who disagrees with Conservative dogma as espoused by Fox News and Rush Limbaugh. You hate em.
Well, here are the facts, Jack. If you hate the Government then you are unqualified to manage it. If you hate gay people more than you love America than you should take your own advice and get the hell out. There are several countries that are openly hostile to gay people, but they are full of brown people and you don’t like them much either from what I understand. It looks like you are screwed, but that’s not what I am here to tell you.
Now that you have thrown everything and the kitchen sink at President Obama and it still hasn’t worked you are panicking. Obama’s approval ratings are still near 50% despite your best efforts to undermine the economy and America’s recovery at every step you can. You tried to hold the American economy hostage to force America into default on its’ debts, debts that YOU rang up under Bush, so you could blame it on Obama and it failed. You’ve used the filibuster more than any other Congress ever, going so far as to vote against providing health care access to 9/11 first responders. You remember 9/11, don’t you, it’s that thing you used to lie us into a war in Iraq, and then when Obama killed Bin Laden and ended the war in Iraq you told people that he hates America and wants the troops to fail. You monsters. You hate Obama with a passion, despite the fact that he is a tax cutting, deficit reducing war President who undermines civil rights and delivers corporate friendly watered down reforms that benefit special interests just like a Republican. You call him a Kenyan. You call him a socialist. You dance with your hatred singing it proudly in the rain like it was a 1950’s musical.
Frankly, you disgust me. Your hatred nauseates me. Your bigotry offends me. Your racism revolts me.
Dear haters, I am openly questioning your patriotism.
I think you hate gays, Obama, black people, poor people, all of us, women, atheists and agnostics, Latinos, Muslims, Liberals, all of us, I think you hate every one who isn’t exactly like you, and I think you hate us more than you love your country.
I think you hate gay soldiers more than you want America to win its wars.
I don’t even think you want America to win wars, you just want America to have wars, never ending wars and the war profiteering it generates. You love that kind of spending, you love spending on faith based initiatives and abstinence based sex education (George Carlin would have loved that one), you love spending on subsidies for profitable oil corporations, you spend like drunken sailors when you are in the White House, but if it is a Democrat then suddenly you cheer when America doesn’t get the Olympics because it might make the black President look bad. But oooh you love your country, you say, and you want it back. Well listen here skippy, it isn’t your country, you don’t own it, it is our country, and America is NOT the religiously extremist Foxbots who hate science, elitist professors and having a vibrant and meaningful sex life with someone we love if Rick Santorum doesn’t approve of it. Rick Santorum isn’t running for America’s fucking high school dance chaperone, he should probably just shut the hell up about sex, but he can’t because he has nothing else to run on.
Republicans can NOT win on the issues. They’ve got NOTHING. All they have is a divide and conquer class war that pits ignorant racist and bigoted people against the rest of us in a meaningless battle of wedge issues and the already proven to fail George W. Bush agenda again of tax cuts for the rich, deregulation, privatization and war profiteering and nothing else, so all they can do is blame black people, gays the government, anybody and everyone else for their own failings. The party of personal responsibility, my ass.
But they love multi-national corporations, just ask a gay hating and racist religious extremist if they think Corporations are people and they will gladly agree, but if you ask them if gay people are people they aren’t so sure.
Dear haters, you are the cruel, heartless misinformed assholes who would sell America out to Haliburton in a heartbeat, you would rather pay ZERO taxes than you would see a newly born baby get access to quality health care, you cheer when we discuss denying health care to young people with preventable diseases, and you boo when we discuss the First Ladies plan to cut back on childhood obesity. You are a cross to carry and a flag to wrap yourself in away from being the people who Sinclair Lewis warned us about, but I guarantee that if Fox News told you to dress that way you would, because you are the same blind, ignorant and closed minded dunces who drove this country into a civil war years ago because you are bound to the notion that some men are more equal than others. In short, the reason I proudly wear my union army hat is because of seditious sell outs like you who constantly fuck over working class Americans so a foreign entrepreneur like Rupert Murdoch can get a bigger tax break. If corporations are people, they are neither American patriots nor capable of love. Just like you.
So stop wearing your hate with pride. Stop celebrating your anti-science, anti-math ignorance. Stop using code words to mask your bigotry like “family values”, especially when you hate my family and when you stand on the same stage as a guy who has had three marriages or if you share a seat in the Senate with a guy who cheated on his wife with hookers while wearing diapers. You should be ashamed. I know that you are just doing this to motivate your misinformed hate cult base because if they actually knew that your ideas will make them poorer than they are now, they would never vote for you. You are doing your best to impoverish your countrymen so rich people can get bigger tax breaks and you can keep on delivering corporate welfare to the special interests who have bribed you, and I am disgusted by the way you gleefully parade your hatred with aplomb. I don’t think you do love America. At least, not as much as you hate everyone in America who isn’t exactly like you.
You should think about that, and maybe get some help.
And for the record, I do not hate you. I am embarrassed by you and nauseated by your cruel and thoughtless behavior and your all consuming greed, but I do not hate you. I forgive you and I hope you can change someday, but I don’t hate you. You have enough hate in you for the rest of us as it is”.
“In order to rally people, governments need enemies. They want us to be afraid, to hate, so we will rally behind them. And if they do not have a real enemy, the will invent one in order to mobilize us.”
When we are mindful, deeply in touch with the present moment, our understanding of what is going on deepens, and we begin to be filled with acceptance, joy, peace and love.
“When you plant lettuce, if it does not grow well, you don’t blame the lettuce. You look for reasons it is not doing well. It may need fertilizer, or more water, or less sun. You never blame the lettuce. Yet if we have problems with our friends or family, we blame the other person. But if we know how to take care of them, they will grow well, like the lettuce. Blaming has no positive effect at all, nor does trying to persuade using reason and argument. That is my experience. No blame, no reasoning, no argument, just understanding. If you understand, and you show that you understand, you can love, and the situation will change”
When Moses came down the mount, he had two plates and on them were commandments. According to legend, there were ten. Unfortunately, in a fit of rage, Moses spoke with his own interpretation of what was allegedly on those plates. We don’t really know what those commandments were… Why you ask? Eight generations passed before a single word of this was penned to paper. Can you say “Simon Says”?
So here we go in this modern world where religion has a smaller influence because of it’s intolerance and interpretations to fit an agenda that has no relevance today. Remember… We are told that Moses said… (before he allegedly threw the plates and destroyed them)… “Those who shall not live by the law, shall die by the law.” Sounds more like a christian fundamentalism chant as battle drums are heard… or a more understandable term… “Sharia Law‘
6. Don’t like porn? Stop pretending you don’t watch it.
7. Don’t like alcohol? Don’t drink it.
8. Don’t like guns? Don’t buy one or try to take mine away.
9. Don’t like your rights taken away? Then don’t take away someone else’s.
10. Thou shall NOT authorize, decree, order, sanction or legislate hatred and intolerance. Laws are meant to increase and/or clarify rights, expand rights, extend rights, elevate rights… not remove rights, take away rights, eliminate rights, get rid of rights or cause separation by law or rights.
Founding father numero uno (Deist) George Washington (Independant party) rarely if ever spoke of god or religion. He was the founding father of the separation of church and state. He regularly attended church but rejected communion. He never once mentioned jesus christ in ANY of his extensive correspondence. He adamantly instructed that workmen hired for his Mount Vernon plantation could be muslims, jews, christians of ANY sect, or atheists for all he cared. On his deathbed he requested no ritual, He had a freemason funeral service. The ONLY quote attributed to him on god or religion…
Founding father numero dos (Deist) John Adams, like all Deists reject organized religion and the divinity of christ. He/They held that reason is the path to knowledge, including knowledge of god. In 1831, an episcopal minister complained: “Among all our Presidents from Washington downward, not one was a professor of religion, at least not of more than unitarianism.” John Adams went a bit farther than founding father numero uno and is quoted as follows:
“God has infinite wisdom, goodness and power; he created the universe…. He created this speck of dirt and the human species for his glory; and with deliberate design of making nine-tenths of our species miserable for ever for his glory. This is the doctrine of christian theologians, in general, ten to one… Wretch! What is his glory? Is he ambitious? Does he want promotion? Is he vain, tickled with adulation, exulting and triumphing in his power, and the sweetness of his vengeance? Pardon me my maker, for these awful consequences.”
“Twenty times in the course of my late reading, have I been upon the point of breaking out: This would be the best of all possible worlds, if there were no religion in it!”
“Ever since the reformation, when or where has existed a protestant or dissenting sect who would tolerate a free inquiry?”
From the treaty of Tripoli, ratified UNANIMOUSLY in the Senate and signed by Adams into law, 1797: “The United States of America is in no sense founded on the christian religion.”
“Who does not see that the same authority which can establish christianity, in exclusion of all other religions, may establish with the same ease any particular sect of christians, in exclusion of all other sects?”
“In the formation of the American government… it will never be pretended that any persons employed in that service had interviews with the gods, or were in any degree under the influence of heaven.”
But never say never as there have been Presidents since that have re-written this history:
“I trust god speaks through me.” – George W Bush… (what the fuck was he smokin?)
Founding father numero tres (Deist) Thomas Jefferson (my personal favorite) was an adamant church-state separatist. “No other statesman of his time could match Jefferson in his hatred of the established faith,” wrote a biographer. “Went so far as to edit the gospels, removing the miracles and mysticism of jesus, leaving only what he deemed the correct moral philosophy.” Engraved on the Jefferson Memorial is the vow of “Eternal hostility against every form of TYRRANY over the mind of man” – without mention that he said it while denouncing those who WANTED to establish christianity as an official religion. That never happened… thank the gods… and our founding fathers. And now his words:
“Question with boldness even the existence of a god.”
“I have recently been examining all the known superstitions of the world, and do not find in our particular superstition (christianity) one redeeming feature. They are all alike, founded upon fables and mythologies.”
“The christian god is a three headed monster; cruel, vengeful and capricious… One only needs to look at the caliber of people who say they serve him. They are always of two classes: fools and hypocrites.”
“The day will come when the mystical generation of jesus… in the womb of a virgin will be classed with the fable of the generation of minerva in the brain of Jupiter.”
“I am a materialist; he (jesus) takes the side of spiritualism; he preaches the efficacy of repentance toward forgiveness of sin; I require a counterpoise of good works to redeem it.”
“Christianity is the most perverted system that ever shone on man… perverted into an engine for enslaving mankind… a mere contrivance (for teh clergy) to filch wealth and power to themselves.” a little hypocritical as he owned and fucked slaves that were considered three fifths of a man (for gerrymandering purposes). He bore human flesh of mixed-race and LIVED!!!
“In every country and in every age the priest has been hostile to liberty, he is always in allegiance with the despot, abetting his abuses in return for protection of his own… History I believe furnishes no example of a priest-ridden people maintaining a free civil government… Political as well as religious leaders will always avail themselves (of public ignorance) for their own purpose.”
“State churches that use government power to support themselves and force their views on persons of other faiths undermine all our civil rights… Erecting the ‘wall of separation between church and state,’ therefore, is absolutely essential in a free society.”
Jumping forward to another great thinker… Honest Abe…
“It will not do to investigate the subject of religion too closely, as it is apt to lead to infidelity.” OK… in hindsight, we know this was a bit self-serving in that Honest Abe was an infidel… my question is… were there any women with which he was an adulterer with? Was it all men? Was Honest Abe still being honest with this quote? Men on the down-low don’t consider themselves gay… and… if married or coupled, do not consider themselves adulterous when intimate with men. Since Lincoln was… like… on the down-low… perhaps what he was doing with men was not considered adulterous to him by this same rationalism.
Here’s what we know:
One in four Americans do not even know that the earth revolves around the sun. Is it any surprise that these people who are surely among the 80+% of Americans with no passport or who have never traveled far from home or even outside their own backwoods county, will believe everything and anything they are told… by clergy… but not what they have discovered or learned on their own… so much so, that these quotes listed above… from written words in archives… must be fakes and fabricated.
There must be a unified backlash against “fundamentalists and ignoramuses who would and have spit in the face of our founding fathers. Let alone adulterated their own gospels for their own power and influence interests and needs.
On THIS President’s Day… as we see ourselves drifting farther and farther from our founding documents, fathers and intents, let us reflect on these words and quotes and stop the BULLSHIT!!! We are the laughingstock of the friggin world. SNAP OUT OF IT.
The mature person accepts his situation and doesn’t desire anything outside of it. If he finds himself rich and honored, he acts as a rich man should act; if he is poor, he acts as a poor man should act; if he is among barbarians, he acts as a barbarian should act. Life can present him with no situation in which he isn’t master of himself.
In high position, he doesn’t domineer over his subordinates; in a low position, he doesn’t fawn on his superiors. He makes sure that his own conduct is correct and seeks nothing from others; thus he is never disappointed. He has no complaints against heaven and no blame towards other people.
Therefore the mature person lives in perfect serenity, awaiting the decrees of heaven, while the unworthy person walks on the edge of danger, always trying to keep one step ahead of his fate.
Confucius said, “In the archer there is a resemblance to the mature person. When he misses the bull”s-eye, he turns and seeks the reason for his failure in himself.”
QUESTION: What Compels People to Take Advantage of Others? I don’t understand.
ANSWER:The easy answer… people are bullies and sometimes people allow themselves to be taken advantage of for fear of loss.
The complicated answer… Some people (narcissists) feel they are better, superior, in a different class and while it may manifest in many ways, such as fame, wealth, power, etc, the fact remains that whatever they do achieve in life is never enough, if they are not at the top of the heap.
Most will lie, cheat and steal without thought other than the risk and penalty of being caught albeit in business or personal life. They want/need your compliments, admiration, attention along with their power and material things. These people leave you powerless, exhausted and drained. They have a total lack of empathy for others, particularly family and friends.
This lack of empathy allows them to take advantage of those closest to them to get their own “desires” met… regardless of the pain or hurt it causes someone else. Sensitive people are most often directly targeted because the narcissist will take advantage of compassion you’ve managed to cultivate over years of life and experience.
It’s almost impossible to completely avoid narcissists and there are things you can do to protect yourself from those who think of themselves as masters of deception.
The narcissist will groom you in the same manner a sexual predator does. The narcissist knows what you want and need emotionally. The narcissist knows how to make you feel good as part of their confidence scheme. They know how to say the right things at the right times particularly with insincere compliments. You can’t fix them and it’s not your job to do so.
Stop, think… act. Protect your heart. Don’t be afraid to turn around and exit the closest door and walk away. Don’t forget to lock the door behind you… from the outside, so you can’t be followed.
You have to know who you are and what you want. STOP the vampire in it’s tracks.
This question is directly related to PTSD threat assessments and hyper-vigilance…
THERE IS a valid argument AND unfortunate reason for today’s word. And there are other words that carry as much weight on a day like today. Today’s word is personal to me. Before I describe the nature of MY embarrassment, I feel first the need to identify the definition and usage of the word.
Today my embarrassmentis because of when I think about hunger, particularly today, I feel shame and embarrassment.
I received an email overnight from the www.threesquare.org volunteer coordinator. It starts:
“To our wonderful Three Square volunteers celebrating a birthday in November!!! Sending our best wishes to all!” “All of us at Three Square want to wish you a very happy birthday!!!” “May your special day be filled with all of your favorite wishes.” And finally came the salutation “Happy Birthday from the Three Square Team.”
No, today is not my birthday (hatch day)… Mine falls on the last day of the month… and I don’t think the email was about me.
The problem started for me when I got yet another email from www.threesquare.org. My email filtering placed both messages right next to each other in my inbox describing the effect SNAP benefit cuts will have on families… starting TODAY.
This email was telling me what today means for all of the people who I have assisted as a volunteer to complete SNAP (food stamp) applications. Less food for the invisible face of hunger. It’s about putting an additional burden on ordinary people. An additional burden on part and full-time employees of Walmart and McDonalds. Two of the largest recipients of corporate welfare. Both of them suggesting and assisting their employees in getting help with food… with SNAP (food stamps) instead of paying them a living wage. Yes, the burden on the back of the low income full-time employee being assisted by their employer in getting assistance with government money. My money… Your money. Corporate welfare. I repeat… Walmart and McDonalds. I’m sure there are other I can’t think of who should share the shame of the board of directors of these monsters. This does not include the theft of service from the medicaid system by these corporations.
In the case of McDonalds, they throw away a lot of food. Prepared food after “X” number of minutes on/in the line is thrown into the dumpster. This food could be frozen and donated. There is no liability in doing this for the corporation. They are held harmless with food donations. Walmart on the other hand DOES donate, but my feeling is that their donations are a publicity stunt. That money should go to employees, better yet, they operate supercenters… why aren’t they qualifying their employees in the same manner I do before I assist with applications for food assistance??? Why aren’t they providing food for their own employees when there is so much right there in the store???
I’m embarrassed as an American and a human being by first of all, allowing hunger and secondly putting the burden of a partisan budget fight on the back of the under-employed, unemployed… CHILDREN, homeless. I reject the wing-nut image of the SNAP recipient. It’s not the true face of hunger.
I see the true face of hunger. Veterans, some of them homeless. My biggest problem is children. I have problem looking at children and seeing them suffer. I want to help them because no one helped me. I want to make a difference.
The following paragraph was borrowed from the www.threesquare.org website:
“Hungry does not mean homeless. It may surprise you to learn that, every day, working parents in Southern Nevada face an unthinkable choice between feeding their families and paying the bills. Three Square was founded to help people like this get the food their families need to survive so that they can focus on other things – like getting back on their feet.
One in six households in Nevada struggle with hunger
57% of children in the Clark County School District receive free and reduced-price meals
Nearly 40,000 children under the age of 18 are served each month by Three Square’s Agency Partners”
My volunteering at Three Square started in a warehouse, preparing weekend packs of food for children who may only receive food from school. Their food is easy… either prepared or given with the ability to prepare it without supervision, since many of these children have no supervision at home. This volunteering was at two partner food bank agencies with Catholic Charities and these food bags being distributed to children at school on Friday before they leave for the weekend. Let’s not talk about the summer, when there is no school. The most rewarding time of the year for me was preparing holiday food baskets/boxes/crates. I could be in a warehouse or a kitchen filling a box with fresh fruit and vegetables, turkeys, ham and fixings with books, toys and other things for children. Each box size based on size of family. While not directly exposed to these people in need. I saw their face when I would bring out a box and retreat into the back to prepare more without having to interact directly with these people. It was always just too difficult for me. My emotions take hold ofme when talking of pain and helplessness and hunger.
Now I work on the phone, whenever I can at the Three Square main office phone bank. I used to hide, not feeling the ability to listen or help people without getting emotional while seeing, hearing and feeling their pain, particularly when children and military veterans are involved. Contrary to the vocal minority who speaks ill of people in need, these people feel a sense of failure and I wish I had the means to do more. I used to.
As embarrassed and ashamed as I may feel about hunger, I can only imagine the thoughts of these people… hungry Americans, yes, Americans, (not undocumented foreigners) who may never have had to ask for help before in their life. That feeling of failure. Not being able to feed yourself or your family. Well, being on the phone, it’s not imaginary anymore. I hear it with my own ears and it hurts me.
The last time I was on the phone, completing SNAP applications an incoming call came from a single veteran who was living in a weekly rental across the street from Nellis Air Force Base. Home from deployment four months prior. Dropped at Nellis and left to fend for himself. Debilitating PTSD… worse than mine. Hearing this warrior hero speak to me with voice crackling describing his situation. Unable to work. No substance abuse. Benefits exhausted.
The cell phone he called in on had three days before disconnect. His eviction from the weekly one day away. A veteran offered no help. Thrown away after he was used up by our own government. I was confused on how to complete his application because on that day, he had some place to stay. An address. The next day he would not. I had to be told to classify him as homeless and have his application expedited. This application was like being stabbed in the back. One of the first questions we ask on the phone… “are you a veteran?” No transportation. Not enough money in his pocket for bus fare to come to the main food bank. Not even knowing if the address would be valid in the one or two days it takes for the application to reach him for his signature and other personally identifiable information we don’t ask on the phone, for example social security number.
I felt as helpless as this veteran… and for all practical purposes, this homeless veteran could be anybody. I did something on that day that I wasn’t supposed to do. It’s against the rules. I wrote his name, address and phone number on a piece of paper and when my shift on the phone was complete, I got on my motorcycle took a picture, not knowing if it would be the last time I could force myself to absorb pain on the phone. It was August 13.
Instead of heading home, which was my intent, because this was a VERY hot day… I took that piece of paper out of my pocket and entered the address on my GPS. I stopped at the first bus pass vending machine I could find and purchased a 24 hour bus pass. I then stopped at Albertsons and purchased a large turkey sub. Grabbed as many condiments that seemed reasonable and picked up a food gift card and put $10 on it. I followed the sweet female voice of google maps to the motel where this soon to be homeless veteran was staying… for one more night. I parked. I got off the bike. I left all my gear on. Took off my backpack and grabbed the albertsons bag with the goods in it. My helmet was still on. It was very, very hot. I knocked on the door. This hero answered the door. I introduced myself as the person who had just spent more than two hours on the phone with him trying to find help for him from veteran’s village and other local and veteran agencies. That look of embarrassment was on his face. There was next to nothing in the hotel room. Probably all that he had with him when he was dumped at Nellis. I opened my face shield about two inches. Enough that he could hear me, but not see my face or the fact that I was crying. Told him I brought a few things for him, asked him to use the bus pass the next day to make his first stop the food bank for a meal. I asked him not to reveal what I had just done. I turned around and left. Went back to my bike and rode home. THIS is the face of hunger. Chances are his food stamp (SNAP) benefit could/would be as little as $16/month… On that day in August, BUT NOT TODAY!!! As of today it’s less. I have no idea what happened to this hero and no way to find out. That was the last time I went tot he phone bank at the food bank to volunteer. Firs I need a week or two break and then I had the pulmonary embolism… time flies. It’s that ime of the year and I think I may go back to Thanksgiving and Christmas food boxes/crates because there is less emotion involved.
Before I moved to Las Vegas I used to go to the post office in Atlantic City, NJ before holidays and they had a table setup where you could read letters to santa with christmas requests. I would scour the pile looking for letters from children who ask for nothing for themselves. They ask for others. A brother, a neighbor, a parent. I would choose these letters. Answer the wish for another or others as requested from santa and then providing gifts for these children even though it was not requested directly. They wanted nothing for themselves. This was as close as I could get to the pain of poverty… the pain of children. The pain of my own childhood that was still hidden inside of me and sealed tight/classified.
My first Christmas in Las Vegas was 1998. I was asked what I wanted for Christmas and I replied: peace, love and happiness. It’s all I ever asked for. I called the main post office, explained what I had always done in Atlantic City and was told, we don’t allow this in Las Vegas. We turn letters to Santa over to local non government organizations (NGO’s). I asked for a phone number and was provided one.
I settled on helping a family of five… working poor (in 1998) with the mother in a wheel chair, unable to work herself because of being hit by a car and a slow recovery from a back injury. I dropped about $500 in goods from Sam’s Club. It’s all I wanted for Christmas. Peace, Love and happiness and some food for others. Working boots for the breadwinner. A winter coat for the bread winner. There were no Christmas decorations in this house but a one foot tall tree on a table. It was too painful to see a family in this situation so I decided I can’t repeat this. So the following year I tried something different.
I went to the Salvation Army tree at the Boulevard Mall and selected 12 children who had posted christmas wishes on little christmas tree ornaments, with shoe and clothing sizes and age. This became overwhelming and I had to use my most trusted lieutenant at the time to help me with my task (Jennifer R.) who went to walmart with me and helped me organize so much stuff for so many children. This was a little easier because I didn’t have to look in faces. I only dropped off bags labeled for each child. But again… overwhelming when working 12-18 hours a day.
Most all of my friends or people need nothing. They have everything they need. So, I found myself sending greeting cards saying, your Christmas Gift went to this person or that person. Like my people needed a box of chocolate from me.
After my first year here, I started drawing a salary and went from employee to business partner. Sweat equity for working a year with no salary and showing how I work and built the business. I could afford more since I was no longer living out of my savings as I had done the first year in Las Vegas.
That year, the third Christmas in Las Vegas I decided on the Make-A-Wish Foundation www.wish.org. I called, introduced myself and said I wanted to donate, but I wanted to know the difference between donating to a wish and granting a wish. What was the average cost to grant a complete wish. It was so much easier to just write a check. I decided i wanted to grant wishes. Anonymously.
The first wish was a computer, peripherals and accessories for a teen with brain cancer. $2400. I thought that would be easy. Little did I know, while I am at compUSA in Henderson, I would be at the customer service desk for a special order pickup and there was this small group of people in front of me exchanging a voucher for a cart full of goodies that any teen would envy. It was the teen that I wrote the check for. Here I thought I would be able to escape the emotion of giving and I was embedded in the middle of it. I walked and left the store… went back the following day for my pickup. I just couldn’t stand there. I saw the make-a-wish voucher, I saw the young man, shaved head with very large scars. I just had to leave. The next wish was for a family of four to take a trip to disneyland before the loss of a child to terminal illness. I knew it would be easier this way. The make-a-wish wish’s were granted until 2007, when I had to umm… stop writing those big checks.
After this, all I could give was my time. It’s very rewarding. I give time in many ways and I know that what I do helps a lot of people. Between the food bank(s) and being on the phone, I think my donation(s) have more meaning. Partnering with another NGO providing guidance for people living with chronic illness. How to live a healthier and rewarding life. Learning all over again, how to take ownership of your own life and health when you feel you can’t.
My shame, my embarrassment is because with all we have, all that we throw away, no one should go hungry.
As I sit here with a kitchen full of healthy organic food and commodity, expensive organic coffee being sipped at this very moment, I know I’m not in need. I can buy my own more expensive foods and not have to worry (as much) about a budget or putting gas in the motorcycle. But I know there are many who can’t.
Shame on those who would take from the poor to give to the rich. This embarrasses me to no end. It’s a disgrace and brings shame to my heart to know these people are Americans too.