Due to the upcoming G8/G20 summit… and the various OCAP (Ontario Coalition Against Poverty) demonstrations which are being planned; an OCAP representative was invited as a guest on a local radio show yesterday. Apparently the host duo did not allow the guest to speak freely and fully on the issues, which I have always thought was bad form…. but that is not the subject of today’s blog. I did not hear the show myself; my youngest daughter was telling me about it after the fact. During the show a man called in and said that, he worked hard for his money and now we (advocates for the poor) are trying to make him feel guilty. My girl’s response was, if you feel guilty then, take action… give or do something so you will feel less guilty. This is a very reasonable response.
First, let me assure you that very few of the people I have met on this journey, resent people enjoying the fruits of their labour. Envy yes… resent no. When I ask a street person how they are today they will usually smile and say “still breathing”. Many sad tales of frustration and systemic inadequacies… The poor don’t want to “make the rich to pay” they want a system that more effectively uses the tax dollars you are already shelling out. Believe me if you truly understood the system (as I do now) you would be outraged by the stupidity of it all. Oops… ADD strikes again.
Back to the subject at hand, our conversation has given me pause for thought regarding guilt. The only person with the power to make you feel guilty is you. It is an easy emotion to avoid…simply “Never do or say anything you can’t own with pride”. If you think about this before you take any action, you will never have to live with guilt or regret.
To the man who felt that anti-poverty activists are trying to make people feel guilty (and to any activists who are deluded enough to think that will work) let me inform you of something. People do NOT give because they feel guilty… they give because they feel BLESSED. For all of our hard work, expertise and dedication, there is always an element of fortune which factors into our life paths. If you are arrogant enough to think this isn’t true, reflect on how life (the universe / God) has given to you. Did you walk into a room 10 feet behind someone who slipped and fell on a small patch of water? Were you standing in an elevator when someone complained about their boss’ plans to merge with a multi-national…? Did you miss or meet your perfect partner when you took a wrong turn or went to a party you had really hoped to skip? Come on be honest. When Oprah was in high school their class field trip took them to a radio station (or was it a t.v. station) where the station manager comment on her voice and said to come back after graduation. How much longer would we have waited for Ms Winfrey to grace our living rooms if her class had gone to a box factory that afternoon?
My adult life has been / is blessed in so very many ways and none of them have to do with money. That part of my life has always been a struggle. I have loving family and friends. I was blessed with wisdom, health, intelligence and uncommon good sense. With these gifts I have learned to be a good parent, a good friend and a good social worker. I live each day in a manner which has earned for me, a deep and abiding peace of heart and mind... Angels of the Road is my way of giving back to life (the universe/God).
At those times, when we feel blessed we want to share, in one way or another with those in need. Never make yourself feel guilty… act with as little or as much as you are moved to. Follow your heart and share your blessings in the way that is best for you… no one is judging your choices. Even the smallest kindness is needed and welcomed in a society seeking social justice.