There is great value in taking advice like this and turning it towards myself. By working to not be poisonous, I can encourage, lift up, empower and embolden. It’s a balancing act I’m working on and is reflected in Joe Campbell, a friend and co-worker, recent post “Gentle Strenth – Wizdom Applied”.
I loved reading Katherine Goldstein’s story at Salon about her marriage to Travis Morrison, and the surprise different world she became part of:
As a kid, I imagined many things for my life. Marrying a rock star was not one of them. I appreciate and enjoy music, but have no passionate or fanatical interest in it. I don’t know any obscure bands and can’t talk knowledgeably about any artist’s “catalog.” I don’t particularly like going to see live music that much—it’s too loud, and I get too tired….
I started dating Travis Morrison, a computer programmer who worked at my company in early 2010. We got to know each other through chatting at the lunch table. We were the only people in our small office who regularly brought in food from home. I had the vaguest recollection that I had heard from a colleague he had been in some kind of famous band, but I didn’t really know the details..
…as the ban on outdoor feeding has gone into effect, the reality is that the proposed service-enriched dining centers are not in place, and hungry people on the streets do not have appropriate alternatives. And we see no signs of progress in dealing with the underlying realities of hunger and homelessness.
So we are left with nothing but a prohibition on providing meals on the streets — an effective criminalization of charity, a violation of religious liberties for many church groups, and possibly the removal of a vital lifeline for many of those who are on the streets. This is not a step forward, but a lamentable step backward. It is only furthering the injustice and deepening the fracture of the human community.
While the story in Psychology Today is centered on business, it must still be true that the stories we tell our children have impact. Read with them, and read them stories that help them see the world for what it is and can be.
If you are in financial distress and can’t see the immediate value, know that in addition, literature can provide a gateway to other humanities, which is leverage that help navigate the world. Earl Shorris, who recently passed away, and whose book, “The Art of Freedom: Teaching the Humanities to the Poor” will be published in 2013, said the following:
Numerous forces—hunger, isolation, illness, landlords, police, abuse, neighbors, drugs, criminals, and racism, among many others—exert themselves on the poor at all times and enclose them, making up a “surround of force” from which, it seems, they cannot escape. I had come to understand that this was what kept the poor from being political and that the absence of politics in their lives was what kept them poor. I don’t mean “political” in the sense of voting in an election but in the way Thucydides used the word: to mean activity with other people at every level, from the family to the neighborhood to the broader community to the city-state.
We focus so much on teaching concrete skills in school, as a means to an end, to get a job, but having that as the lone purpose of education is a mistake. I don’t know where I’d be without the books I’d find myself reading way back when. I had thought they were a means to escape whatever was going on my life thru my imagination, and sure, they were, but it turns out they helped me immeasurably in every day life and still do to this day.
Cities, for the first time in 100 years, are growing faster than the suburbs. Meanwhile, poverty has grown everywhere rapidly, even in places not thought possible:
While the overall suburban population grew slightly during the previous decade, the number of people living below the poverty line in the suburbs grew by 66 percent, compared with 47 percent in cities. The trend quickened when the Great Recession hit, as home foreclosures and unemployment surged. In 2010, 18.9 million suburban Americans were living below the poverty line, up from 11.3 million in 2000