Monday, October 31, 2011

Charity vs. Socialism

I suspect that this blog post may lose me a few readers; I'll have to live with that. Because this is such an intensely emotional topic, I've stayed silent for a very long time. Not because I don't have my opinions, but more because I couldn't clearly articulate my thoughts.

I am liberal in my views about people being happy in their lives and life-styles, but I admit to being fiscally conservative and worried that there is way too much government involvement in my personal life. Trust me, I like money as much as the next guy; day to day living is made easier with it. And, one of the best lines I ever heard about money was from my friend Bernie who said, "While it's true that money can't buy happiness, try living without it!" Amen, sister, Amen.

But as it relates to current affairs, I can't in good conscience not weigh in. Not especially after a flip cartoon has gone viral on Facebook and other places. For me, it's the last straw. So get ready. Read at your own peril.

The cartoon I'm talking about is one of a man speaking with Jesus and he is saying, "But, Jesus if we feed all these people, won't that be!!!" Kill me now. Really? Really?? Now we want to bring Jesus into this? Shame! Because most of those who use this cartoon to prove a point against the Unfeeling, Uncaring Economic Establishment, also believe religion is the opiate of the people and will have none of it!

You are hereby put on notice: You can't have it both ways!

Okay, I'll play your silly game: Going along with the notion of "What would Jesus do," this man who fed the masses with the loaves and fishes is also the man who preached very clearly, "Render unto Caesar what is Caesar's and unto God what is God's." Meaning, these two states are clearly separate and both must have their due.

He's also the man who was reticent to do this miracle of the loaves and fishes just as he was to call attention to himself by changing water into wine at the wedding feast at Cana. He did not see it as his place to make global, sweeping changes to the state of things. He did preach that we should all examine our conscience and act on a situation presented to us in order to deepen our sense of understanding and compassion.

The Christ was NOT a socialist; he was not political in any way, (much to dismay of many of his disciples, like Judas, who were hoping he was going to liberate the Jews from the Roman occupation.) What The Christ was, is a highly evolved thinker, and an active thread of Spirit who understood the soul-stretching qualities of compassion, faith, and charity. He taught us that the earthly body and life should not be our only concern and what we should really be doing is expanding our connection with Spirit.

He appears to have been an individual who lived in the world as it was while hoping to grow spiritually from the experiences it offered. He did good works, cured many, provided us with miracles to consider our potential, but he did not insist that the good works be mandated by an governing body. He also said, "The Poor will always be with you." Which means that he understood that all of us at one time or another will be poor, either in spirit or physically. It also means that The Poor are our opportunity to grow our sense of compassion and love by addressing their needs as we can. Or not; it's our individual call.

But, before I go much further let's make sure we're all working with the same understanding of the words socialism and charity.

As defined by Webster's Dictionary:
Definition of SOCIALISM
1: any of various economic and political theories advocating collective or governmental ownership and administration of the means of production and distribution of goods
2: a system of society or group living in which there is no private property b : a system or condition of society in which the means of production are owned and controlled by the state
3: a stage of society in Marxist theory transitional between capitalism and communism and distinguished by unequal distribution of goods and pay according to work done

To my mind, the third definition is what's afoot here. And, if I had not spent time in Russia, I would not understand the impact of that sort of transition. But I did spend time there, and I did see what the years of Communism did to the country. I did hear the tales of what is was like to live in a place where Socialism leads to misery.

As my one Russian friend said, "Yes, the notion of equality for all meant that we were all equally miserable. Contrary to what we were told, it did not make for an elevation in our status as citizens; Socialism lead us all to our lowest common status. Marx and his people were exempt from the horrors of the system they started. They lived well while most of us starved."

When I asked Kira to explain further or give an example she said, "Dalink, do you know why Russians starved and suffered through bread lines? Look around at how vast our country is, there is farmland everywhere. But, we had no equipment and no one would farm it because the Government came and took what the farmers produced, "For the People," and did not pay them. They told the farmers what crops to plant and how much and regulated all parts of their living until the farmers couldn't farm or wouldn't farm because they could not make a living."

She continued, "So the farms went fallow and there was none who would take it up because there was no way to make it work. Now my country must start over again. Almost from the beginning, but there still are few farmers and much more land than farmers to tend it."

Another friend of mine, Ludmilla, still shared her family home with a man who had been placed in it during the Communist regime. I absolutely couldn't get my head around that as she explained, "I cannot get him to leave. I have slowly bought my flat back but he doesn't care because he has lived there for years and has no intentions of leaving. I must pay rent and for food and utilities and all the things that the Communist said they would take care of. Thank goodness Communism is ended, but now I must buy these things and the money is not there. It is very hard to make it work. This man, I have no legal recourse to remove him. If he does not wish to go, I will have to wait until he dies."

Yep, the third definition is the one you should be worried about the most...

Because let's be clear: Charity that is mandated by a government is not charity; it is socialism. A government established program that makes certain that everyone has equal status is not Nirvana, it's Socialism.

As defined by Webster's Dictionary:
Definition of CHARITY
1: benevolent goodwill toward or love of humanity
2: a) generosity and helpfulness especially toward the needy or suffering; also aid given to those in need, b) an institution engaged in relief of the poor, c) public provision for the relief of the needy
3: a) a gift for public benevolent purposes, b) an institution (such as a hospital,) founded by such a gift
4: lenient judgment of others

The word most often associated in these various definitions is, gift. A gift is something that you decide to give to another. It's not a mandate. It's not a requirement. It's not a legal or governmental parameter. It is your choice.

While it might be expected, such as someone might expect that they get gifts on their birthday, if no one gives them a gift, the birthday boy or girl cannot go to the government and insist that they make amends and/or make us give them a gift.

Okay, so now that we're clear on the difference between these two words, let's keep going with this discussion. Feel free to give me your thoughts on all of this, so we all can learn by sharing.

Currently, with the whole Occupy Wall Street efforts, people are attempting to bring into clear focus the growing divide between the Haves vs. The Have Nots. I get it. While I don't agree with the tactics, I'm sure parents felt the same way when I and my friends were out protesting the Vietnam War.

The need for change is always brought about by civil unrest, it seems. Protesting and making public statements is also part of that. So for those who are genuinely there to express their concern and the need for change, good on you. But, let's face it...there are hundreds who are there just because it's a way to vent anger and hatred toward who and whatever. Some aren't even sure why they're there except that it's a happening. Some are there because they don't know what else to do to impact this issue and move things in a positive way.

But, mostly it's about fear and frustration. It's about seeing that others seem to have way more than you do and thinking that's not fair. It's about feeling like David facing off against the Goliath of big business and banks. It's about worrying how you're going to find a job in this crappy economy. It's about bills you can't pay. Or being in debt that you don't want to take responsibility for now that you're drowning. It's about being strapped with a home that's lost a significant part of its value and/or being upside down in a mortgage. How are you supposed to survive? Why doesn't someone do something to help you? What's to keep you alive body and soul?

AND ALL OF THESE ARE VALID CONCERNS, but they're not going to be answered by taking money from those who have it and giving it to those who don't. They're not going to be answered by impinging on the ability for businesses and individuals to make as much money as they can. It's not going to be answered by more government involvement and regulation. They're not going to be answered by the Liberals' insistence that the government Level The Playing Field and give to those who don't have money from those who do.

Don't you understand that when the thought, "The government is just going to have to pay for this because I/we need it," what you are doing is forcing your needs/wants/ desires onto every other citizen? WE are the government. Our taxes are the funds for all of these programs, bail-outs, welfare, student loans left unpaid, bankruptcies, and mortgages that are foreclosed upon.

If you need help, it should be my choice to help you! It's not your right to expect that simply because you need it, it should be provided!

It's about you becoming right with the idea of money and understanding it for what it is. It's about more of us becoming better educated about how money actually works. It's about seeing how the money is made by individuals and organizations. And it's about following the American dream of doing the same. It's about the opportunity to rise UP to affluence and success.

It's about adjusting our thinking about what are truly personal rights. It's about taking responsibility for the financial choices you made and honoring them. The government is not the answer. You are the answer. If you want to be the master of your own destiny, you can't ask the government to step in and micro-manage your destiny when you don't like how it's going. The United States of America was founded upon the principles of opportunity....all of us have opportunity. Some of us run with it and some of us don't. It has little to do with how hard someone's circumstances are and how easy someone else's might be.

If we are so concerned that we no longer understand how to be charitable and seem to be cold and uncaring, I'm with you on that. We, as a nation, are forgetting what it means to be charitable. ALL of us are forgetting it. Not just the ones who have the money, as the Liberals would have you believe. In fact, it's still true that the wealthiest of Americans are giving record amounts of money to charities and causes. But the rest of us? Not so much. "I don't have enough money to take care of myself in this economy! You can't expect me to give money to others!" It's time to rethink this comment.

While money is often the indicator of charitable behavior, it is not the entire answer. Charity of spirit and willingness to extend ourselves to others in any way possible is also part. By volunteering our time. By being a mentor. By being neighborly. By checking on an elderly person who lives near and seeing what you can do to help them. By offering to help a young mother with her children. By offering a neighbor who doesn't drive if they would like to go with you when you go to the grocery store. By hosting a pot luck dinner where everyone brings what they can and many are fed for just a small investment. By doing unseen acts of kindness. By becoming an active member of your community.

We say, "Charity begins at home." That's so very true. For those of us who are loved, we first learn to be charitable by how we deal with those who occupy our home space. We have our parents then teach us what it means to be charitable to those who live near us. We join civic groups; we go to houses of worship; we become a good neighbor.

Oh wait, most of us don't do those things anymore. Religious custom is fading for a vast majority of us. That's fine with me, if you don't want to go to a religious address, but each of us must find an alternative means of connecting with others and become aware of those who are in need. We must find a way to become a charitable part of community.

You have to find a way to develop a charitable nature, not just fixate on financial concerns. We must teach each other what charity means by our actions, not by Occupying Wall Street. And, please, stop looking to the government to mandate your financial security.

This little girl is Merlin. She is Michael's foster child. About nine years ago, a speaker came to the church he attended to talk about their charitable work with children. He decided he would make the monthly contribution to their efforts. Merlin is his assigned child. Very few people, up until I just told you, even know he has done this.

On a regular basis, we get a letter updating her situation. When she was very small, her aunt wrote these letters which are translated into English for us. They are full of small details about how Merlin is a good girl and likes school, etc.

Now, Merlin writes to us about her days and sometimes sends a drawing. It's very sweet. In all cases, the letter is full of statements of gratitude to, "Godfather Michael" for his support and care. In the letter that held this picture, she talked about being excited with her new school clothes!

And, here's the thing that illustrates true charity to me. Michael started this when he was making next to nothing as a new funeral director, (this industry, sad to say, pays terrible wages in general,) and he was paying a mortgage, child support, the rent on his apartment, and all that goes with life.

Still, he decided that he wanted to help a child thousands of miles away because, as financially strapped as he was, her circumstances were much more dire. We are spiritually richer for his decision. Even the months in this economy, when we aren't sure how we'll pay all of our bills, he still honors his commitment to this girl.

The poor will always be with you. It's time for all of us to decide if the fact that we might be economically poor means that we are also going to be made poor in spirit.

Bad economies and world crisis come and go. Your spirit's richness and depth depends entirely on you and your willingness to grow it. No government can make your life better if you aren't willing to understand that being rich has little to do with economics, and everything to do with your ability to care and reach out to others. And, most importantly, your willingness to reach for more and better for yourself, despite the odds that seem against you.

Namaste' Till Next Time,
Holly aka She Who Is Rich

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Silent Sermon Sunday

Dear Spirit,
That was a good trick you pulled.
Now, can I have my treat?

Namaste' Till Next Time,

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Fairy Dogmother

Is this not the cutest wee Scottie you've seen in awhile? She's so new her eyes aren't even opened yet.

She is one of five healthy Scots delivered recently over at Rocky Creek Scotties. She was the first to be born.

And, in honor of me, she's been named Holly...

How cool is that? I'm not certain that her family will keep the name or not. But I will always know she was named after me.

Even if I can't talk My Lion into a third Scottie in the family, knowing she is there and making someone delightfully happy is still pretty good.

Oh, Holly, you are so adorable! Thanks Lynn for the huge honor!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Silent Sermon Sunday

Even the worn, the brittle, the spent among us add beauty to the landscape.
If only we develop the eyes to recognize this.

Namaste' Till Next Time,

Saturday, October 22, 2011

My Three Suns

No, that's not a type-o in the title...I'm a lucky woman, I have three suns to brighten my galaxy.

Yesterday, Evan left to visit the east side of our big state and spend time with some of his pals before heading back to the base. He was going to also visit with his Grandfather and drop off a gift from his tour overseas.

We decided it would be a nice thing to do, to take the journey with him. So, even after Michael drove 680 miles in two days for a business meeting, we hopped in the Santa Fe and made the journey. The tripometer turned over 1000 miles about 20 miles from home. That's a lot of driving in 72 hours!

It was fun to be on the road with Evan's car following along. Now, that takes a great deal of restraint on the part of my boy because he has a 400 horse power GTO, and well, he could have been in Hanover by the time the Santa Fe was out of the driveway. Okay, that might have been a slight exaggeration, but only slight.

I look at it this way, we saved him from getting a speeding ticket. We are good parents.

Dad Frock was delighted to see us. Even Rory & Fiona were part of things as they ran out on his tiny balcony and announced to the world that a Frock reunion was in session. Sister-in-love Theresa was there and friend Joan stopped by, too.

Some laughs, sharing of stories and adventures and it was back in the car to head west again.

But, not before I gave Evan a big hug and told him how wonderful it was to have him home with us for a short while.

Today, as Michael and I go about various chores that "need done," as they say here in Western PA, (for some reason the words, to be are never used here,) the house seems a great deal more quiet and less lived in.

Yes, some people leave a big hole in their leaving. It must be a sign of how much they mean to you and how much love is shared. It leaves you more than a little blue, but you know you're lucky to feel the blues.

Safe travels there and back again, my Boychic!

Namaste' Till Next Time,
Holly aka WSM, aka A Member in good standing of the Frock Club

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Summer Yields Her Last

That's the last of it. The garden has been put to bed and this is all that is left. It's pretty, the shapes and textures. I suppose I'll have to see if I can successfully fry the green tomatoes.

My neighbor, Cindy, and I did not have a lot of luck with our garden this year. The cucumber vines and the squash plants turned brown and stopped producing. They went very early. The tomatoes produced fruit that split quickly and damaged. And not near as much yield this year. Even the cherry tomatoes were stingy this year.

The second planting of green beans did produce a heavenly small yield of sweet and tender bits of green heaven, but the peas and snap peas hardly posted at all this year.

Always the one to think I've done something wrong, I really fretted over my green thumb turned black, but I heard from other 'farmers' that their back yard plots didn't fair much better. So that's left me wondering what may be going on. I'd appreciate any insights you can share.

How did your garden grow, Mary Mary Quite Contrary? Mine, no so good. How about yours?

Namaste' Till Next Time,
Holly aka Farmer Dietor

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The Final Drive

This handsome Greyhound is Drive. I do not know all the details; I simply know he is gone. And, like a great many people, I am heart broken. His owner is someone who I have come to know in this crazy cyber world of ours, via Facebook. Alisha and I have never met. I don't know if I'd recognize her in a crowd. But, I do know I'm pretty torn up for her and her family.

It happened yesterday. Drive was lounging on the sofa; it may have been a stroke. I can only imagine the sense of absolute hysteria and desperation Alisha must have felt. She tried to lift Drive and get him in the car to rush him to the vet. But, he was way too big and she was way too small to do it on her own. If love had been enough to move Drive, he would have been in that office the second it happened.

Her husband raced home and they sped to the vet's, but the damage was too complete.

For LOVE, Drive, she did. And that love showed in every act of care and kindness she freely gave him. She did a great deal, by first adopting him and then daily showering him with affection. Or as the Greyhound community likes to pun, a Greyt deal. Alisha would tell you that what Drive gave her in return is beyond measure.

In the end, Alisha did the only thing she could do for her beloved boy, they took him by stretcher outside into the bright autumn afternoon...she held him in her arms on the grass, in the sun while he left her. In the end, she did the best thing an owner can do for a pet; she was there with love. His Facebook page, today, is steeped in post after post of tributes and thoughts from all of us who came to see what Drive was up to and saying. It's heartwarming to see the out-pouring of feelings.

Quite the photographer, Miss A has taken some beautiful pictures of her houndies. She's also very witty and when she wrote in Drive's voice, you could hear his droll personality so clearly. She penned the now famous Drive line, "Whut I em duin' here is," as she captioned a photo of Drive in action. Many, many times these could make me laugh out loud. But mostly, they gave me a smile and a moment of quiet when I could just rest in the beauty of a love affair between a woman and her rescue dog.

On many levels, Alisha and I are unlikely 'friends'. Our points of view are vastly different. Our world views are miles apart, as are our politics, life experiences, and ideas of Spirit. But, what we do share is being writers, a keen sense of humor, a willingness to share the important things in our life for the enjoyment of others, a strength of character when facing life challenges, and our deep love for our animal kin. I think the things that we have in common are the more important things.

Especially our love for our animals. And how we struggle to gain our equilibrium in the emptiness that follows their leaving. Especially when one as special as Drive has gone. For reasons we can't even explain, some bonds are tighter and the loss is more heart-wrenching.

So, Whot I em doin' heer is sayin' how very sorry I am for your huge loss, Alisha. Thank you for sharing Drive with us and giving us so many greyt moments of laughs, smiles, and images to remember. And, until we meet again, Drive, run free and fast.

Namaste' Till Next Time,
Holly aka A Drive Fan
Images by Alisha Berry

Monday, October 17, 2011

The Many Faces of Love

Ava looks a bit bemused by this picture business....and well, she may not take to having a camera flashed at her as much as Miss Livy seemed to take to it. However, we will have our monthly pictures for her first year! Laura is good like that, making sure from the very beginning that both of her girls feel loved in equal measure.

As to whether the girls feel that will be on them, not for Laura and Eric's efforts to do the right thing. It took me a long time to understand that how loved one feels is not always an exterior thing. Meaning, no matter how much or little love one feels from another is very often a product of what we allow; what we recognize; what we will accept; what we choose to feel. We have to be emotionally healthy enough to recognize love in all of its multiple forms.

Admittedly, it's easier to sense love when you are around loving, kind, caring individuals. The sort who are obvious with their affection. But, the more emotionally mature one is, the more one is able to identify love in action, as well as love in words and romantic ideals. Like, all these years later, I know that Nanny, The World's Meanest Woman, loved me and her family. But, she showed that love in the way she kept us warm and clean and well fed. It was not in her to talk about love or even saying, "I love you." Her life in the Old Country was too hard and dire to have learned the gentle, flowery parts of love.

If you want to know what I'm talking about, this ability to be open and ready for love, think about some that you know-- No matter how much you do for them, or say to them, or attempt to let them know they are loved, it's never, never, ever enough. After awhile you get worn out in your efforts to make them feel loved and part of the important parts of your life. Finally, you get to the point where you just can't give anymore. You won't give anymore. You just can't.

People like that have internal work to can't love them into lovability. You can't love them enough to ever make them understand. You can't make them feel love. You can't explain to them that there is a vast difference between being lovable and being needy.

It's not until we learn to fall and be in love with ourselves that we can be open and receive love from external sources. And for most of us, that takes years of struggling until we finally get it. If all other forms of love vanished, would you still understand love because of what you give yourself? I hope so.

I'd like to think I've worked hard to understand that it's my willingness to be open to love that has made me feel more loved. I've stopped expecting that love will come in a form that I can easily comprehend or digest. All forms of true love are worthy and welcome. Because love is, after all, love. There will never be enough of it. Who am I to turn it down if it's not the color I like best?

Also, I've learned that you can't chase love or demand it. You can't go to a dry well to find water; likewise, you can't expect love from individuals and situations that aren't right for you, aren't meant for you. You have to have the courage to move on to the places and people who are supposed to be in your life. And you must be willing to learn the art of loving yourself so that it remains the one constant in a life which is constantly changing.

Feeling all the forms of love requires that you accept an individual just as they are in your life. You must give them the latitude to love you in their way. Be grateful for it as it comes and continue to expect more love in life.

And, following Nanny's example of Love In Action, I made Thanksgiving dinner yesterday. The whole kit 'n caboodle. Yep, right down to the cranberries. While Evan is here and Melissa could be here, too, the whole Frock Family sat down and was grateful to be together and share a meal of thanksgiving. It's more about a state of mind than a date on the calender, don't you think?

I have to go now. Rory just walked in and stood up on my chair. He only does this occasionally and it means he wants to sit on my lap and give me Scottie smooshies. Who am I to turn down puppy love?! My wish for you is that you feel Love today. And, if no one is around to make it easy for you to sense that love exists, please, whisper, "I truly Love YOU," to yourself and really, really mean it.

Namaste' Till Next Time,
Holly aka She Who Is Loved

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Silent Sermon Sunday

Evan has made it safely home from his tour of duty.
He is home with us for a few short days.
We are blessed; so are you.

Namaste' Till Next Time,
Holly aka WSM
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