Thursday, January 6, 2011

HEARTLESS LIVING AND GIVING VS. GIVING FROM THE HEART

Most of us don’t notice the injustices and downright evil that support our lifestyle if we are comfortable enough to remain oblivious.  The key word is enough. So much of our modern lifestyle is supported by shadowy evils on the periphery of awareness. I suppose it is our responsibility to stay informed and aware of whatever is casting the shadow, but the quantity and complexity of the systems that support us physically engender an overwhelm response that results mentally and emotionally in a fuzzy numbness.  How can one possibly deal with all the things that need to be fixed?  Most of the time we do what we can to placate our conscience knowing that we are barely touching the issues in our world that need to be fixed.

 I’ve been receiving a number of contribution campaigns in the mail each week from one charity or another asking for a pledge of money.  I notice the same style on all of these mailings.  They enclose a free gift of address stickers and a notepad and then if I don’t respond it upscales to a calculator, pen, or cheap polyester blanket.  Once in awhile it is a T-shirt. I quit giving to these charities when this style of appeal began. I wonder about how much it costs to pay for such a mailing campaign.  I’m sure it keeps some people employed but the assumption behind this promotional style irks me.  It assumes that I won’t give for no-thing, and that guilt will motivate me to help pay for the promotional costs.  Even the local PBS channel has taken this up.  I used to give to several Native American organizations that provided (or so they said) food and heat for the elderly and various types of help including education for the young but now I think about how much help could be provided for the cost of these unwanted pieces of junk.  Although I can’t take it off my income tax as a charitable contribution I prefer to give to people in my immediate environment that have a need.

There is a Tarot Card in the Rider-Waite deck that personally strikes a dissonant cord.  It depicts a wealthy man giving alms to the poor who are kneeling beneath him in gratitude dressed in their rags. This is the interpretation given by James Rioux  http://www.ata-tarot.com/resource/cards/

 The Six of Pentacles often represents the first of these two situations, when it is your generosity that is being (or should be) expressed. Now that you have lived through the darkness long enough to see the inner light, it is time to help others who are not so fortunate. The generosity of the Six does not limit itself to money and material things, though the focus is on those because it is a Pentacle card. Giving of your time or your wisdom is often just as spiritually fulfilling as giving away money or gifts, and the intangible gift of your presence is received just as well, if not better.

There are limits on helping, however. It is pointless to give so much that you ruin yourself, and it is equally pointless to give a person so much that they become totally dependent on you. That is the purpose of the scales, which offer the qualities of discrimination and fair judgment as they relate to generosity. To paraphrase Marx, give according to your abilities, and according to the needs of others. And if too many people start asking for your help it is not forbidden to draw a line! Do not make the mistake of half-heartedly helping everyone when you can do a better job helping a few.

I don’t believe that creation is something that happened eons ago, and I don’t believe that there was once a state of perfect balance that was destroyed by some disobedient human action that occurred at the very dawn of the conscious human relationship with the creator. I do believe that creation is a work in progress and that each step begins with the loss of a previous balanced state. Even to walk requires that a static state of balance be sacrificed for the next step.  It is also possible to fall backward and to fall on ones face.  But these are aspects of becoming and each backward slide or forward fall brings knowledge to those who have discovered the power of learning as a significant part of the creative adventure.

Consciousness is never total but continuously evolving.  Typically individual consciousness tends to be at a higher level than mass consciousness.  But sensitivity to the state of others is an ongoing project and a necessary part of personal as well as social evolution. Perhaps this is another way of saying that the intention is as important as the action when it comes to personal responsibility.  The idea that getting money even for a “good” cause by manipulating a guilt response in others or even the greed response, if a tax deduction is involved is another way of saying, “the end justifies the means.”  Instead I believe the end will always reflect the means and a lack of heart in any fund raising campaign will enable the state of consciousness that is responsible for the very problem it is attempting to correct.