09 April 2009

A NOTE ABOUT RECIPROCITY


WHENEVER I WRITE ABOUT THE POOR, the responses always come in abundance. ONE PAYCHECK AWAY FROM HUMANITY was another example of this and my email was jammed with dozens of letters. A number of you have been kind enough to broadcast your feelings here. More than one of you were offended, as if I were issuing a personal and direct challenge; some were inspired to act; some heaped praise, and so on.

It is a sign that I should continue to write about the poor and homeless, especially as our nation struggles. That I shall do.

Below is a post from Gemma Benton, whose blog I began following at the beginning of 2009. She is committed to "Setting a thought in motion that will sustain seven generations, and prompting an indigenous conversation." I hope to pursue these issues with her over the coming weeks and months, but in the meantime, I don't think she'll mind if I share the entirety of what she wrote here.

You can find her wonderful blog, "Way Beyond Green: going beyond the conventional into deep sustainability" at http://waybeyondgreen.org/


ANOTHER NOTE ABOUT RECIPROCITY

If you read this blog through Google reader, you’ll want to “refresh” my post about reciprocity. I changed a bit. Soon after I changing it, I came across Kevin Miller’s post about his interaction with some ‘down on their luck’ folks in Cleveland.

You’ll enjoy his story. Here’s my take.. Kevin’s generosity was true in deed and heart and is a great example we can all learn from. Thank you Kevin!

Yet standing away from the forefront, in a single gesture I was struck by the black man who had nothing..homeless and freezing… yet found a generous moment in his soul as well. He could have done the ’street rap’, ranting about how “Its about time someone helped..I’m entitled to…a warm bed, a roof over my head…”

Yet that’s not what happened, he turned his attention to express his appreciation and return a kindness. Wow! Now that’s worth talking about. I wish I could buy this guy dinner and a cool hat to go with his new jacket and thank him for giving us the gift of meaningful conversation.

There has been a lot of talk going around about what folks think they have a “right to” or are entitled to. Some times we get so sideways with our “right to” that we lose our way and become ‘besides our selves‘.

True generosity and kindness is about giving with humility. This way of getting ‘besides our selves’ and getting humble again, it’s what the old people used to call “becoming a human being”.

If out of the crisis, we emerge true human beings… well that would be the healing miracle that the Elders have been calling for and it could be the sign for great healing of the planet; better said, the healing of our selves.




The above photo is 57-year-old Robert Slaughter, a homeless man who lives in a wooded area in Rockville. It was taken by Michael Williamson/The Washington Post

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