Thursday, December 06, 2007

Bah. Humbug. :-(

Permit me a bit of grumbling here. Just -- be here for me, OK?

I'm upset. A friend of mine knows someone who has apparently fallen on hard times, and is asking people to buy a holiday product from this person. So far so good. It's just -- I have the sense of a whole lot that has gone unsaid.

I mean, the situation that this person finds himself in, is not something that strikes out of the blue. Let's just say that it involves a legal action, one that is so difficult to execute that there has to be a phenomenal amount of evidence, accumulated over a long period of time, for that action to be executed. (An example: Someone locally was recently evicted from a property that was not only a neighborhood eyesore, but also a health hazard, not only to the resident but to neighborhood schoolchildren (the property was across the street from an elementary school). The length of time involved in the eviction? Seven years.)

The situation that my friend's friend finds himself in is similar. It sounds as if the person's financial straits are dire. But -- dire doesn't just hit, it builds over a period of months. In that time, wasn't it possible for this person to contact family members for help? I'm thinking of the many relatives who stayed with my late Aunt Mary over a period of about fifteen years. Nothing was said, none of us young folk knew that these people were homeless and would have been out on the street but for my aunt's generosity. They stayed for an average of three years with her, finding work, then finding homes of their own; in a couple of cases, we never heard from these people after they moved on. But my point is, they called on family for help, and that help was forthcoming.

So, why is this person soliciting help on the internet?! Does he not have family to whom he could turn? Is he so on the outs with family that they wouldn't touch him with a ten-foot pole? Why are you bothering complete strangers for help?

As I said, I have the sense of a whole lot that has gone unsaid. And without those blanks being filled in -- I feel used.

Thank you for the shoulder to cry on. We now return you to your regularly scheduled revelries.


Suzanne said...

Meg, I had many of the same thoughts and concerns when I heard of this situation. However, several years ago I was the "family" to which someone turned when she found herself deeply in debt and out of a home. I was terribly "used" at that time, and I had some really negative (justifiably so) feelings toward this person. All that aside, since we don't know the particulars of this case, would it be fair to guess and judge whether or not this person "deserves" our help, however small? I would hope that if I were in need of help of any kind that I would not be judged as to whether or not I was worthy or deserving of that help. When I think of it (and that's not all the time), I try to practice Charity in whatever small way I can and leave the rest to God. I hope I've not overstepped my bounds here.

Meg said...

I don't see it as a question of "judging" whether or not someone "deserves" my help, just that before I buy anything from this person -- especially something I absolutely do not need -- I'd like to know what his other resources are. Are there really *no* other resources?

As for practicing charity, there are plenty of places right in my own family where charity is needed, not least of which is my father-in-law. I've also given to relative strangers -- after I was able to contact their priest and determine that their need was, indeed, dire. That's all that's bothering me -- what's really going on here, and why is someone else presuming on my friendship to help out *her* friend?

Suzanne said...

You do have a point, Meg. When we first became Orthodox, our then priest warned us against becoming "burned out" by trying to do everything and help everyone. He specifically mentioned that some people tend to take advantage. I guess in this case it boils down to the level of trust we have in the referring friend's judgement. For myself, I still prefer to think of giving first, and then watching to see if I'm being taken advantage of. I can always stop giving if I see a need to. On the other hand, though, recently I sorely needed help, not monetary but emotional support, and I turned to people I trusted and got lambasted so badly for being "unchristian" that I learned a lesson to look more deeply first at the hurt the person is experiencing. As far as this person turning to strangers instead of family for help (and you have to admire her integrity to start a business instead of ask for a hand-out), there are so many family that are ripped apart by discord that it's not a stretch at all for me to think that she/he can't turn to them. You do make a good point, though.

Mimi said...

I couldn't get the order page to work, so that's my answer on that.

However, I agree - it is so hard to remember to not second guess, which I am very, very, very guilty of. And, we are bombarded by requests, and I don't have the ability to help all. I just need to remember to help where I can.

Sigh. But I need to give more. That is definitely for sure.

Catherine K. said...

This is going to ramble a bit, please forgive me in advance :)

It is so hard to know where others are coming from. There are indeed many people for whom there is no other person or family there for them if an emergency happens. So many people are on the financial edge these days, so much that when something happens like large medical expenses, or being laid off of work or whatever - it is sobering to think about how many people are on that particular edge for many reasons. I guess that it hits home for me because I have been there - and I know just how easily it can happen under the wrong set of circumstances. So many families are just so wounded and in disarray these days. We seem to have lost something of the idea in this country about the role of the extended family.

I am thinking of a story told by one of the Fathers about a man who gave a coat to a beggar. The next day he saw the same coat in a market, where the man had sold it and he was saddened by this - that he had wasted his goods by doing this. That night he had a dream, and Christ was wearing the coat.

We can't second guess, though that is so very hard not to do - and sometimes the neediest person may not look like they are.

As far as your friend asking you to help her friend, perhaps this was just her way of encouraging her friend to pursue the business approach? Perhaps this is a stretch....

Ok, I will stop rambling now :)