Thursday, December 22, 2011

Greetings, 2012.

The trees know all about the snow and wait for spring to redress wrongs. (c) 2008 by RLMT

         As the year 2012 marches nearer, the year passing is of much interest. Personally, the last 18 months has been a wicked roller-coaster of rises and falls, sharp turns and blind spots. I have never liked such mechanical rides, nor the pain-thrill of deliberately gambling with one’s own precious life. Indeed, life itself provides enough confusion.

            Recently, as the American economy also became a roller-coaster, one created by untrustworthy hands, I have seen people I thought had more sense and compassion, more kindness and understanding, making fun of and/or criticizing others for using social service benefits such as food stamps, medical cards for children, and housing aid. I know too well that it is impossible to live here (and I life in an inexpensive area) on $10,000 a year, and that with only two people in the household. I am also aware of many families who struggle, through minimum wage deficit, disability and/or health issues, and a rising cost of living, to do what must be done. I know of people holding as many as three minimal, scarcely available jobs who cannot sleep because their sleep has been too broken for too long. I speak of both local and immigrant Hispanic families, in regards to such problems.  Nor do I forget the vicious words of those who, born of immigrants themselves, and the descendants of immigrants, who seek to abuse those others who are more recently arrived in what in the past was a land of hope. The current immigrants have but one ‘social sin’, that of seeking to provide a better life for themselves and their families. 

           As a descendent of the Appalachian culture, wherein is hidden much racial mixing that is only now coming to light via genetic testing, and where the words “Did y’all eat yet?” roll off every traditional tongue at the mere sight of a guest, I am appalled. The color of someone’s skin is not reason enough to deny compassion and neighborly decency. Especially when so many noses poked haughtily in the air are not all one color of heritage themselves. 

To all things there is a time and a season; only humans don't want to wait it out. (c) 2008, by RLMT

           Granted, there are always deadbeats who will abuse kindness and charity, and there are those who would create personal profit by making those deadbeat, sorry-tailed excuses of humanity into the mainstream poor. This is simply not true. Poverty is not something anyone in their right mind would willingly choose. The system’s inefficient disbursal of aid, lack of suitable regulation of the same, and the lack of mental health care (as well as physical health care) for the public is also to blame for misuse of ‘benefits’. It is not all on the poor that the fault is laid. Blame is but another ‘hate-full’ label stuck on someone or something by way of ignorance and lack of personal responsibility acceptance. 

           For us, the past 18 months has been a mid/late life education on the Dance of the Eternal Hypocrite. I have perhaps been guilty of the same in the past, yet there is always hope. I shall certainly try harder to be fair and unbiased, to look at each thing in its individual context. 

A farmer's three patient, wise cedars. (c) 2008 by RLMT

             Hope depends on truth for a solid foundation. Without those two key elements, life’s roller-coaster falls based on nothing more than shifting sand. Wide hope and the cement of truth compensate for ugly greed and misinformation. 

            For us, during that same 18 months, hope has spread wings of admirable strength. The faces of hope are as varied as the need of it, and beautiful beyond mere skin deep. 

           The faces of hope I have had the joy to see include a woman whose generosity and kind admiration has kept me working for a lot longer and with more serious intent. She came here from another state to being a brand-new laptop with suitable software to someone she still has yet to meet. (I am still working on it, friend, and thank you again.) More faces of hope included people who chipped in on funeral costs for a woman who dies with hope of grace redeemed, and little else. Yet again: the faces of the funeral home owners, people who waited patiently for the rest of the funds their small business depends on to run and keep them. Perhaps most amazing of all, I have seen hundreds of people who have never met, who vary in so many more ways than I can describe here, come together to support each other and create a community rich and varied among their own artistic disciplines. Every one of those creative souls looks for an innovative way to attend to whatever situation might arise, and to share that way with others as a matter of course. 

            There is long-overdue talk of a homeless shelter in our tiny community. People who have seen the utter failure of underfunded, under-focused charitable institutions to meet or even recognize the need for such, are stepping up on already tight personal incomes to find a way to help the cold and hungry find comfort during the cold months in particular. I applaud them with great love for their open kindness to those who, for whatever reason, need to accept such aid.

            For every evil of lies, selfishness, usually with racism and bigotry based on more lies, ignorance, outright stupidity, and general complacency among those who simply do not care about anyone or anything other than themselves, I have personally seen the quiet heroes of life step forward. They have rolled up their sleeves, muddied their boots, and worked toward a veritable cathedral of humane and decent hope. They have and are doing these things not because it is profitable in terms of immediate cash to themselves, but because of the long-term benefits to everyone, hope and truth a solid basis for all. 

There is hard-won blood and sweat upon the altars of truth, call it what you may. Those who make such offerings invariably know the price they pay and the true worth of it. 

           Bless ’em. Every single one. 

           Hard times come, hard times go. We stay and we find in ourselves that which carries us onward as a species. If we are really strong, we find laughter and beauty in the struggle, the extraordinary among the ordinary even there; those are the gifts that pain and hardship cannot conquer. 

A farmer's three patient, wise cedars. (c) 2004 by RLMT.

           Mayan calendar or Gregorian, 2012 is upon us. I suspect that, like the spooky rumors of the year 2000, things not prophesied about will come to pass, and at that mostly because of forgotten history in repetition combined with destructive greed far more human than humane. I also suspect that time, that strange concept of indescribable progression that runs neck and neck with life in a race neither can win, will stubbornly go on. Just like the rest of us, in the best ways we can manage. 

          Every tomorrow, bought and paid for at the price of today, is precious. Yesterday is a debt we owe to tomorrow. All any of us can hope for is a solid path to follow and the illumination to see it through. 

          Come on, 2012. I will light a High Fire for you in welcome and blessing.

~ * ~

Happy Solstice to all readers. I wish you the best in the coming year.

After a snow and ice storm, the path leads onward. (c) 2008 by RLMT