Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Givers & Takers: The Nature of Need

Need wears many faces.  It is usually, or many times does become, also a form of control.  One’s health is the primary need which binds and ties those around us in a daily dance of ‘helping’ ‘caregiving’ or assisting the needy one in doing what it is that they’ve chosen to do.

It seems that it’s just an accident – health has been damaged, there’s been an accident, someone has some type of deficiency physically or mentally.  Often enough it is the actions of the needy one which has brought on the condition; and it is ALWAYS the series of life choices, occasionally destiny, which has landed them where they are in a position which must be constantly supported by others.  Then those unfortunate enough to be around get locked in to some type of servitude, whether or not there’s been (or can be) any free choice in the matter.

An indentured servant.  Unpaid most of the time, unless there’s a power play about housing or support.  Interdependence often forms an inequity of roles . . . one or more doing most of the giving to the central figure in the scenario.  A feeling of usefulness may become frayed to the breaking point -- tattered and torn -- after many months/years of expectations and demands with time and life energy going only toward the taker's requirements.

This is a severe, widespread life condition and someone must lose the larger part of their life to the cause.  Clearly seeing this is not so easy at times, as it morphs into many different forms, especially if the ‘user’ is clever at setting the situation up and executing it well.

Being helpful is great.  Doing for others is divine.  Caregiving is so essential . . . even at best, this entire country at least has marginally efficient techniques/solutions for most of it.  What to do?

If you are the giver, do be aware that your role is that of servant.  Now, spiritual guides tell us that this is required of us, to be a fully good human being.  Are there limits?  Should there be guidelines which take into account the quality of life of the giver, as well as the taker?  Is the taker not only infirm and needy, but controlling?  How can this be determined and what questions do we ask to accomplish that?

It’s a life conundrum.  Whether you are the giver or the taker, continued happiness, safety, comfort and quality of life depends on understanding exactly the position currently occupied, and remaining clear about the well-being of all parties concerned.

Monday, September 3, 2012

What is Community?

Recently a woman who has been a part of a small Tennessee community for most of her life died. She was at various times during her life a daughter, a girl scout, a student, a beauty queen, a wife and mother.  She had many friends and acquaintances in that little town through those years.

In the last few months, one friend in particular was faithful to take her food and necessities.  Just before her death, the City's utility department disconnected utilities to her home.  Temperatures reached the low 100s during that time.  How, in a small town where everyone is connected to someone and there were many who knew of her weakened condition, did something like this occur?  With all the town’s churches within a stone’s throw of her location, full of faithful Christians, where was even one Good Samaritan who questioned doing this procedure, much less carrying it out with no attempt to contact someone who could verify that this woman was still capable of taking care of herself, or able to conduct business at all?

The Bible instructs us to take care of our own, to treat others with the same consideration we would ourselves want to receive.  This woman would not, at this point in her life, have been able to generate new industry in her town, nor would she have been able to grab a headline, or create good publicity or more income for the city.  Her life had become simple and reclusive, and according to several people with whom she personally communicated over the past few months, she was honestly confused as to how that happened.  In short, help was drastically needed for her.

As this particular small town readies to celebrate its 100 year anniversary, perhaps a thought or two might be in order as to what it truly means to be aware – of its citizens, its responsibilities, the full, basic reason any community continues to exist in the first place.  Procedural process is necessary within any infrastructure, it is understandable and essential.  Application of rule without consideration of a human aspect, a moral evaluation, becomes at best mindless and at worst predatory.

While those around her went home each day to a cool, comfortable haven, this forgotten citizen perished – in deadly heat, without water, ignored and brushed off by the community in which she had spent most of her life.  We are responsible for each other.  This death surely will touch the hearts and minds of those who truly understand what has just happened.  When officials of any entity remove themselves from remaining solidly in touch with those they are privileged to govern, disaster is imminent.   No amount of applied authority can, or ever will, eliminate moral duty.