Dharma on the bridge

This afternoon after work, I headed over the Main Street bridge to get some walk time in.  I’ve been walking since a “challenge”  started with the wellness program at work the beginning of May.  I saw someone hand a sandwich to a man sitting on the bridge with a cardboard sign that said Feed Hunger. 

It was especially sad to me because the man appeared to be Asian, either Nepali or Karen.  Or some other culture.  And the sadness is because these are cultures built around family, taking care of family, because if your family doesn’t take care of you, who will?

The result is that, if someone is without family, they are in deep trouble.

Tribal origins, caste and/or class are big barriers to people caring for each other in many, many cultures, so the tradition of family caring for family is really important.

It struck me that, with shifting demographics in the U.S., the United States could end up absorbing a lot more of the origins/caste/class attitude than it already has.

Now is the time for people who think of themselves as part of American culture to do these kinds of things:

1) Live and act as if nothing labeled “yours” belongs to you.  Material possessions are not evil by themselves; they become evil when used with a selfish attitude.  I see so much in the news about rich people and celebrities giving tons of money to charity, but (though I cannot read hearts) it seems often that their hearts are not in such acts, only their accountants.

2) Remember how it felt that day when you had absolutely no money/food/gass/toilet paper/shampoo/stockings without runs/whatever.  How it felt when you realized your house key was locked in your house or your car key was locked in your car.  I think that almost everyone I know has had at least one experience like that.  Multiply that feeling by ten or twenty years and by tens of thousands of people.  That’s the feeling and the memory that many, many people in Rochester and surrounding areas carry with them like a big, black rock they can’t set down.

3) Don’t begrudge a scammer a sandwich or a drink.  If someone might be trying to game the system, well, whatever.  He or she will have to own up to it some day.  Meanwhile, your heart doesn’t need to be grinchy.  Never give money; that is a no-no.  Period.  But give all the sandwiches you can.

4) Learn to rock out on pennies a day.  Years ago, when I was in school, or just out, I had zero money on hand one day.  I had a craving for potato chips.  Walking down the sidewalk, I found fifty cents.  Wow, I got really excited.  I got a bag of potato chips.  I felt richer than the Queen of England.

5) Support organizations that support the helpless and the homeless, and do it with your vulnerable, beating, heart.  For church folks there are gobs of church-type organizations; for non-church folks there are gobs of non-church organizations.

6) Try memorizing Exodus 23: 6-9

“You shall not pervert the justice due to your needy brother in his dispute.7“Keep far from a false charge, and do not kill the innocent or the righteous, for I will not acquit the guilty.

“You shall not take a bribe, for a bribe blinds the clear-sighted and subverts the cause of the just.

“You shall not oppress a stranger, since you yourselves know the feelings of a stranger, for you also were strangers in the land of Egypt.”

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