Saturday, May 28, 2016

The necessities of life

We talk about the necessities of life, food, clothing, and shelter and there is a lot of discussion about people being homeless or hungry, but we don't say as much about clothing. If we are really going to change the world, we need to wipe out homelessness, hunger, and lack of clothing - all three.

There is no easy solution of course. If there were, the problem would have been solved long ago. Large cities do have shelters and that might ease the problem, but it doesn't solve it. There are more food and hot meal programs in larger cities too. What about something to wear? Although there are clothing drives, that doesn't seem to be addressed as much. I've lived in places where there were clothing donation bins in public places and civic organizations and churches often have occasional collections.

What do people donate though? Let me tell you this - a shirt full of holes or a dress with the zipper missing isn't much use to a homeless person. They usually don't have access to sewing supplies and equipment. Donating shoes that are worn out or pants so thread bare that you can read the newspaper through them, doesn't do a lot of good. If you have old shoes and clothes that are ugly and worn out, throw them away! If you want to donate clothes but don't really have anything that is appropriate, consider making a purchase at a low-cost store and donating them. You might also consider volunteering for an organization that supplies clothing to those in need. While the need for clothes in this organizations is obvious, they are often in need of folks to help them collect and distribute.

There are also a number of organizations across the country that deal with clothing for those who are in need. Goodwill is a good place to start. There is also http://www.clothingdonations.org/

Friday, May 27, 2016

How many

Hearing this same question several times in reference to the lgbt community, I just HAVE to say something. In reference to same sex marriage, I heard it asked "Why should we be concerned about such a small group of the population?" The month I have heard two different people saw the same thing about our transgender sisters and brothers. Just yesterday, I heard someone on television ask why bathroom accommodations should be made when there are so few people involved. I can recall back in the early days of AIDS there was concern about the blood supply, and it was said that too few people were involved to make testing of the blood worthwhile.

How many does it take? When will we stop discriminating. Justification of our various prejudices has often been linked to numbers. If a race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, religion or any other group is in the minority, some folks think that is reason to discriminate. What about abused animals?  Are tons of dogs, cats, horses, or other animals mistreated in your community? It isn't the number that we should be concerned about, because any abuse, yes ANY, is too much.   "Not many of them, so they don't count."

WRONG!

Everyone counts. Everyone is important. I'm sorry if I seem to keep getting up on my soapbox, but I have to say this. In fact, I want to scream it from the rooftops! All lives matter. Everyone should be able to live a full and rich life without fear or intimidation. Everyone. It doesn't matter how many. Now let me be clear. I'm not saying that any action is okay. We aren't talking about what folks do, but rather who folks are. Discrimination based on identity is wrong.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Please DONATE

The cashier at the corner store has a jar on the counter collecting for a local charity. The restaurant where you eat breakfast every day has a similar container. On top of that, folks (like me) are always asking for you to buy chocolate bars for a school project or to sponsor them in a fundraising walk-a-thon. Please DONATE! There is just no escaping it!

Sometimes it may seem like a pain in the butt, but money raised really makes a difference. Some projects and programs are funded solely by contributions. It actually feels good to know that you are being of help too.

Is it always possible to give? For most of us, the answer is no. Money does not grow on trees, and most of us have a limit to how much we can spend. (Of course, as we have talked about here in the past, there are other ways of giving too, like our time and our talent, but that's another matter).

If you really want to have funds to help others, there are a number of things you can do. The coins you get back as change from purchases, you might always set aside to donate. That afternoon cappuccino can be skipped occasionally and the money put to another use. You might do little fundraisers of your own, with your plan to give the proceeds to your favorite causes. Perhaps a bake sale or rummage sale. Got a bigger tax refund than you expected? Think about donating that unexpected money.
 
There are many ways to make a difference in this world, and donating is certainly one of them.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Help me up the stairs

If you enter San Francisco City Hall and walk toward the center, you find yourself under the dome and in the glorious rotunda. You also find yourself at the bottom of a huge staircase (only part of which is pictured here). Imagine for a moment that due to age or injury, even two or three steps up can be a challenge. Now think about what it would be like to climb this grand staircase.

Now I do want to point out that in this particular building there are numerous ramps and a number of elevators as well. Folks with ability challenges can still get around. What if you wanted to go up and only via this staircase? How about when you are in a building where there are no ramps or elevators? The issue doesn't have to be a real set of stairs either - there are numerous figurative challenges that can slow us down. Imagine wanting very much to do a certain task, but have all sorts of blocks in your way. Oh my!

Almost every one of us has come upon a situation where we need a hand. As much as I enjoy being independent, there is nothing wrong with asking for help. What I want to express this morning is that nobody should ever have to ask. Think if you will about how wonderful it is when someone aids you without you having to request that aid. Think about how caring that is. How wonderful it would be if we ALL cared about each other, that we would help them up the stairs, they minute we realized that they would benefit from our assistance. The world is so much better when we all willingly help each other out!

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

family

I don't understand the fighting that too often goes on within families and I certainly don't understand people walking out or disowning. Family (to me) is forever. It's not like some kind of club you resign from.

How can a parent turn their back on a child? How can a kid walk out on mom or dad? How do sisters and brothers stop speaking to each other? Family (to me) is about love. With love there is no fighting or walking out - or kicking out. With love there is respect and there is discussion and there is understanding and hope. Family is the foundation for all that we are.

I remember an interview with Angelina Jolie from a few years ago in which the actress said it best: "Family is what grounds you."  Indeed.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Political nightmares

Trump? Clinton? Sanders?  Someone else? Having trouble deciding this presidential race? How about your US Senator? Who would you vote for right now? Congressperson? Are you having any political nightmares? Do you want to just throw your hands up in the air and run?

Don't! Seriously. Some of the shenanigans from various candidates can certainly be frustrating, but that is all the more reason to stay involved. Read the flyers. Go to the meetings. Read what the newspapers are saying. Have conversations with friends and neighbors. The process involves us, all of us, and for it to really work, we need to all do our part. The biggest part of that, of course, is voting. Vote in EVERY election, even ones where there are few decisions. Think your vote doesn't count? Think again. I have seen some very close races over the years. Once about thirty-five years ago, I saw an election decided by just 47 votes. More recently, a friend of mine ran for office in Northern California, and won by just 292 votes. What if 300 of his supporters had said "My vote isn't important," and stayed home? The other candidate would have won.

I'm not a fan of any sort of negativity, even if the other guy starts it. I wish every candidate would run a clean and honest race. It just doesn't work that way though. All of the bad isn't enough to keep me away though. Want to change the system? Be involved in that system! Don't give up on this presidential race, as frustrating as it may be. Work to make things come out for the better. Change comes about when people dedicate themselves to making it happen.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Let it shine

Everywhere I look, there is something that makes me happy. What about you? Do you see happiness in the most simple things? I look out the window at the sunrise and think of Barry Manilow's uptempo pop song from back in the mid-70s. Before you know it, I'm singing.

I'm singin' to the world,
it's time we let the spirit come in
Let it come on in

Those peppy lyrics, which Manilow wrote with Adrienne Anderson, are enough to get you bouncing, even if there isn't a gorgeous sun rising on your horizon. Put them both together though and it will keep shining all day long! Why frown first thing in the morning anyway? Start the day happy and you can stay that way all day long!

Yes, and it's daybreak
If you want to believe, it can be daybreak
Ain't no time to grieve
Said it's daybreak, if you'll only believe
And let it shine, shine, shine
All around the world

Let's keep believing! Let's keep letting it shine!


words from Daybreak by Barry Manilow and Adrienne Anderson © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Universal Music Publishing Group