My problems have piled up so fast that I have reached the point where I would rather avoid emails or phone calls which ask, “How are you doing?” The debilitating act of complaining can erode the spirit, but, then, I’ve never really had that much to complain about. Until now.
So, without going into details – or additional details – about my woes, I’d like to mention some life lessons, which have helped me put them in perspective.
THE TEACHINGS OF JESUS CHRIST – Throughout his earthly ministry, Jesus championed the meek and the poor. There are some 700 mentions of the poor in the New Testament, more than any other subject., and 407 were spoken by Jesus.
MARIE – When I was a young woman my Sunday School class got involved with the county welfare department in a project which took us into a world of backwoods Mississippi poverty we could never have imagined. A friend and I took as our “project” Marie. I do not know if our efforts eventually helped Marie and her children, but they taught us about the downward spiraling cycle of ignorance and hopelessness.
THOSE STRANDED BY KATRINA – For five days, I sat in the comfort of my home and watched in horror those stranded in New Orleans in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, asking myself, “How can this be happening in America?”
DOROTHEA LANGE’S “MIGRANT MOTHER” – In 1979, I viewed the Dorothea Lange collection of photos made during The Great Depression. (See Library of Congress collection HERE.) I stood for a long time and looked into the face of Lange’s “Migrant Mother” (shown above) until her despair burned into my soul.
JOHN STEINBECK’S “THE GRAPES OF WRATH” – Now, having just listened to Steinbeck’s desperate saga of the Joad family, I add this reminder of what poverty is and that it really does happen in America. While a fictional family, the reality of the Joads comes alive in Lange’s photographic record. Steinbeck insisted a complete copy of “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” be printed in the first edition of his book – the anthem from which his title came.
This post was to have ended here, but I received a forwarded email mocking so-called “street people.” More and more prevalent in the news are expressions of disdain for those less fortunate. The belief that their lot in life is the result of laziness should stir our wrath.
Then, I noted this recent editorial in The New York Times:
“The New Resentment of the Poor” points out that Republican candidates and leaders are painting a picture of America's working poor that is “factually wrong, economically wrong and morally wrong.” Don’t let lies prevail, when a few minutes of reading will equip you with facts. READ THE EDITORIAL
There really are haves and have nots in this country – those who have compassion for the less fortunate and those who apparently have none.
Before you leave this page, look once more upon the face of the Migrant Mother. Consolation for our own petty problems is written there.