Sunday, October 18, 2009

Thoughts on coats and other things that come with it.

Tonight in church, it was announced that the Salvation Army is looking for donations now, specifically for warm winter clothes, hats, gloves, etc -- and specifically for men's winter clothes. Unemployment is high right now, they said, and the need is for donations for men.

What does it say about a society, when it is the men that need to be taken care of?

Let's look at a life cycle of wearing coats (if you live in a warm climate, please substitute "coat" with something"sunscreen.").

When you are an infant, your parents put
your coat on you for you. You play no part in buying the coat, deciding when to wear it, or the actual putting on of the coat.

When you are a little bit older, you might start putting the coat on by yourself. You still need help with zipping it up maybe, and you certainly didn't buy it...but when your parents say, "put on your coat," you are able to help yourself a little bit.

Then comes the age where you are completely able to realize that it is cold out and put on a coat. Your parents still bought it for you, but you know how and when t
o use it. Soon, you may even be able to predict that a coat may be necessary later on in the day, and bring it with you when you leave the house.

Then comes the day where you are old enough to go get a job, buy your own coat, and wear it whenever you think you need to.

Back to the donations for coats and other warmities. I really wish that everyone who needed a coat could have a coat. Especially when there are more coats hanging in the stores than people who need coats, it would seem. Or even when my own closet has more coats in it than people living in this apartment.
But how do I help? If the need is for donations for men, what do they really need help with? I am certainly helping them, at least temporarily, if I just go and get a bunch of coats and donate them. But is there more? Certainly
if they need coats, they are at a need for other things too. Food, shelter, income, sense of responsibility, etc.
Where does my responsibility lie? How much should/can I give? Is it better to give someone a coat, or a job so that they can buy their own coat? Is it better to give someone a job, or to give them a good work ethic, so they can keep a job? Or teach them how to budget their money, once they have a job?

(Warning, coming up are a bunch of "absolute" statements. They are meant to be a sort of exageration to drive a point home. Please don't think that for some things I really believe that people "always" are this way, or they "ne
ver" do that.)

Softening the blow.

On one hand, I always claim to never be political. Most of the time if people start talking about politics, I have to leave the room, because I mostly disagree (doesn't matter whose team people are on, usually when people are talking about politics, it is because they disagree with the other side, and are complaining. This is what I disagree with).
It dawned on me the other day, that maybe what I most disagree with about politics is the way it gets in the way of what it was intended to be. If that makes any sense. If politics exist for the betterment and organization of the people, then the problem (and why everyone always complains all the time) is that people generally want to have a say in how they help others. "I don't want my tax dollars paying for that!" "I want everyone to have a coat, but only if they earn it!"
Is this really helping others? Maybe underneath it all, I really am very political, I just don't know enough to articulate it, and I am often too distracted by the feeling of wanting to throw up every time I hear someone criticize the government. Please, United States. Count your blessings and stop your belly-aching all the time.

On another hand, back to coats, should we treat people like the adults they are? If you go out and buy someone a coat and then wish them well, have you really helped them in the long run? Maybe, if that was the inspiration they needed. But is there something more we could do? I've often heard it argued, "But I don't want to give that bum a coat, because then it means that I condone him being a bum, and what he does while he is a bum, and probably why he is a bum."

This way of thinking, I think, is crap. We should always give and do good, and not have our own agenda or motives. We who have more have a certain responsibility to take care of those who don't. Read James 2. If we truly have faith, it will be known by how we treat those who don't have a "perfect" life (and really, who does?). Doing good is the fruit and evidence of our faith. Withholding good from someone, whether they deserve it or not...what is this evidence of?

Ok. Sorry for the rant. I just often wonder how to help people who are clearly at an age where they should be able to care for themselves, yet they can't. For whatever reason. At what age did they stop being cared for? Is it too late to help them? Should I strive to help those at a younger age, so that they grow up able to afford the necessities of life? Or should I help those who didn't have that luxury as a child, and therefore never learned how to care for themselves?

Here is my to do list, from Romans. And for now, my political stance (in remembering my Independance Day resolution).

Don't just pretend to love others. Really love them.
Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good.
Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other.
Never be lazy, but work hard and serve the Lord enthusiastically.
Rejoice in our confident hope.
Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying.
When God's people are in need, be ready to help them.
Always be eager to practice hospitality.
Bless those who persecute you. Don't curse them; pray that God will bless them.
Be happy with those who are happy, and weep with those who weep.
Live in harmony with each other.
Don't be too proud to enjoy the company of ordinary people. And don't think you know it all!
Never pay back evil with more evil.
Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honorable.
Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone.

(Romans 12:9-18)


Laura said...

This post is rich with irony. I don't like political rants, but here is just that. I said I didn't like when people withhold good unless it's on their own I want to help, but have too many questions about how.

A lot of times the things I post are with my finger pointed at me (not the gross finger). Sorry if you thought it was ironic or hypocritical. It's not meant to be. I am an idealist. Ideally, people would do good and love others without an agenda.

HB said...

I like the verses....Romans 12:9-13 are my "life verses". I also post things with a finger (gross or not) pointed at myself, mostly to remember things that convicted me or ways I want to live.

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