When did everyone stop having simple common morals?
Not long ago I sat one late evening talking with my aging Uncle Buzz, seventy five years old, suffering from Non-Hodgkins Lymphocytic Leukemia, he was but a shadow physically of the man I knew and loved my whole life, yet in spirit he was as strong if not stronger then I could ever remember.
Not often did I hear him speak of his youth, yet as the end seemed to approach in his own life, more and more these late night discussions seemed to be ever increasing in necessity more then a mere casual convenience.
I recall one particular night Uncle Buzz recalling with more then a single tear in his eye, the hardships that he had to endure as a young boy during “The Depression”.
His mother and her two children, alone in one of the toughest economical times this country had ever endured. Poor, uneducated, and abandoned, with virtually no hope for sustaining themselves, in a time when many fought for any means to sustain themselves. Yes there was government programs, but for most this direction was not only a last choice but fell below a level of self dignity that many just could not venture.
He spoke of a mother that no matter how bad it was, would not take a hand out. Working all day cleaning houses for a mere nickel a day. When they could no longer afford the home in which they lived, being forced out into the street, they at least were blessed with the ability to rent, at a nominal rate, maybe five cents a week, the basement of her sisters house.
He said rent, because he knew his aunt had often offered to let them stay for free, but it was his mother knowing the dire financial situation of her sister as well, that insisted on paying and would only stay if she could pay a fair rate.
The walk to school every day was an adventure of exploration and blessings, his mother would accompany the two small children each way when she could, taking a bit longer route then normal, as to venture along the train tracks gathering coal that had fallen from the passing trains for their stove each day. Young Buzz would run further into the brush gather the largest pieces often filling his mothers bundle long before they came to the end of their trek.
When the mother held all she needed, any extra was placed in a separate sack for Buzz and his sister Pearl, of which they could collect until the end of the week and sell for a single cent, just enough for one piece of hard candy each. Sometimes life was good.
Times were extreme, the bitter cold would on more then one occasion find its way into the wear holes that appeared in shoes that were just a bit older, and over used, then usual. Sometimes the cost of a new sole or a needed repair was more costly then could be found.
Out of the question was any thought of asking for it for free, my uncle had on more then one occasion, worked all day in the shoe repair shop sweeping and polishing until his fingers were black, for merely the cost of a single repair. But the smile on the face of his mother after seeing her son earn the much needed repair, far exceeded any physical cost.
There were always people who would lend a helping hand. Food and services were always exchanged, some people engaged in a sort of barter system, giving what they could to one and receiving what they needed from another. But many people just took pride in helping each other, and on occasion, his mother had to bend to accepting such a gift for partial loaf or small can of beans, knowing that when a time would turn for a winter half of bag of coal, or much needed afternoon at the wash bucket, so developed a way to repay.
There was an inherent sense of good that resided in most people prompting them to share what little they had, and finding pleasure in the payment of a smile received from a child or father able to eat today after skipping the last three meals. Where have those days gone?
One generation later, is it in an office after hearing my patients spill through the topics of today.
I wonder if a kind act, a true word, or a simple sharing of things needed has completely escaped us.
I find myself fighting almost on a daily basis, on behalf of patients for authorization for care that not only have they been prescribed, but I concur they need. Not a day goes by when I am not seeing an example where patients are being denied care they should receive, being lied to by the very companies that had contracted to care for them, an insurance company or attorney is trying to cheat me out of paying for care already provided, people using the system for their own purposes other then to get healthy, or just flat out apathy to the needs of people in general all for the purpose of increasing profits.
On another not so special day, a woman explaining in a general manor her plan to walk away from her home. A home only a few years before, she loved and found herself very privileged to own. She explained that it has declined in value to half what she had mortgaged it for.
Her plan no different then many others of a similar situation, find and purchase another less expensive home while the credit score allows, then stop paying on her present home six months maybe ten. She explained with a sort of gleam in her eye, she has heard that back ups in the courts have delayed evictions for as much as a year or more in some extreme cases.
She was planning to get into only a slightly smaller home for a quarter of the monthly payment, and with all the money she will save over the next seven plus months from not paying any rent of mortgage, should have no problem paying off the credit cards, or purchasing that car she has wanted.
But then again maybe she would just lose the credit cards, file bankruptcy, keep the money, go on that vacation she has always wanted, her credit would be shot anyway, “what does it matter!”
“I’d take everything you could get!” another person volunteers, “take yours, nobody is going to give it to you!” They all laugh.
People realizing that there was a hail storm several months ago, somewhere in Phoenix, and suddenly everyone has hail damage. An entire industry springs up of people dedicated to collecting moneys they believe are due to them, whether they suffer the damage or not. I know several people even openly bragged about taking a hammer to their house or yard barbecue just to justify their claim for thousands of dollars for repairs they have no intention of ever performing. They sit back and wait for “their” check!
How many people that actual where the Katrina victims received the money’s allocated for relief? I had heard someone say that over 60 percent of the money paid out, went to people who had later shown to never have resided in Louisiana, many of which may have even been in prison at the time they collected.
People today only seem to care about others when it somehow, or in someway improves their own situation. I see more people who proudly brag about obtaining disability while holding down other means of income, making money for doing nothing except manipulate the system, and feeding their addictions, in the last few years, then I had seen in all of the last twenty years combined.
When an elderly person no longer can contribute they are cast away, locked away, a person no longer wanted, discarded! Children used in porn, tossed in dunpsters, elimanated at a mere whim, abused, used and forgotten by the very people that should have dedicated themselves to raising these.
Wives, husbands, when the going gets tough, those who may have, get going! Honor, integrity in the work place, honesty in politics, treating someone fairly, the honor of the handshake, my word is my bond, even simple curtacies such as opening a door for a woman, telling the truth, all discarded from normal social behaviors.
My point is people in general seemed to be more concerned with getting what they believed they are owed, what they want, and this personal entitlement seems to be based purely on when they see other collect, they feel they should some how receive it as well. Greed has run rampid!
Watching an economic analyst recently on a famous news show, a man who accurately predicted not only the bubble breaking of the stock market, but also accurately predicted the real estate crash we currently find ourselves in, he was asked what we could expect in the future?
His response; “following an almost certain severe and immediate devaluation of US currency, an era of true depression will occur.”
The commentator then went on to ask; “As bad as the Great Depression of the 1930’s?”
The man responded in a most solum tone; “The Great Depression? No! The Greatest Depression! Because in the Great depression people helped each other, they cared, they shared, they had morals. In the next Depression the people will not care, they won’t help each other and when things get tough, people will just take! We have become a people without honor, without morals!”
Some where along the way in our most recent years, just the last few decades, we have changed from a society that in most cases placed honor and integrity above their own personal desires, a people that would never take a handout, to a people that not only eagerly take a handout, but actually have a common belief that getting something for nothing or without working for it is some how our right. This is evident completely across the board in the lives of people all the way up to the expectations of big business.
We have gone from a people willing to help each other, actually caring about others, to a people who “follow their heart”!
I wonder if this is how the way it was at the time right before the flood?
By Peter Colla
“Dear Lord Jesus soften my heart and that of my brothers and sisters, to see the absolute destructive nature of greed and thus observe the effects it has not only on myself but on everyone around me.”
“Help me combat it where I can, and pick up a sword to actually engage into this battle, the battle of charity.”
“Charity in a world of greed.”