Did Charity Wander Off?

Flickr - Panhandler - Jay AremacIda Lawrence, Contributor
Waking Times

I remember walking down the boardwalk at Venice Beach, and seeing a woman sitting on the sidewalk with her two small children, holding a sign that asked for charity. It was shocking to me, as I felt, deep inside, the loss of human dignity that she was experiencing. But for the grace of God, there go I…

I lived in California, a few steps from the beach, and the sight of homeless and suffering humanity was familiar. I called it the bleeding edge – people came there for shopping and eating, and recreation and fun during the day. During the night we saw the reality of it… the edge of the continent. When you get here, there is nowhere else to go but back.

The woman with babies… she wasn’t easy to look down on. She was a reminder – what is this that I am just few steps away from?

As I think about it and talk about it years later, after having studied and experienced and incorporated new ways of thinking and being, it feels no different. If it is her karma to be there, and it is her children’s karma to be born to her… at the moment I don’t care. It doesn’t change my feelings. It must be my karma to have seen her and to have felt that she is me.

  • Even though it can be an uncomfortable subject, I’d like to talk about charity. In the consciousness movement we have some knowledge about the attracting power of our thoughts and projections and behavior… we study the physics and metaphysics of energy and we practice, to the best of our ability, bettering our lives and evolving.

    Some of us might look at the woman and say, “It’s not appropriate for me to infringe on her experience. She brought herself to be there… she must have needed to have those experiences for her evolution.” Well maybe so… but then again…

    I got a little peek into that window years ago, and it surprised me because that’s not where my mind was at the time. I had decided to do a 40-day fast just to see what would happen, and whether I could do it. I never made it to 40 days, but I did get what I needed out of it. The first two weeks were great – my mind was so much clearer and I was starting to intuitively see inside of things. During the third week I went out and took the train, and I remember getting off at a stop and glancing at a derelict man who was on the other side of the platform. I knew, without doubt, that he had chosen to be a derelict this time around… it was an instantaneous realization, and totally out of the blue.

    “He knows now… he knows who will see him and who will not. Geeze! He doesn’t just know about his own experience, he knows about us… empirically.” I wonder if that’s the reason why, in some cultures and belief systems, the flip side of the beggar is ‘angel or saint’. They offer an opportunity: “Will you see me as yourself?”

    Here’s a question to ask ourselves: Has the consciousness movement inadvertently played a part in the current matrix conditioning with regard to charity?

    I’m sure you’ve noticed, as I have during the past 10-15 years, a collective uncharitable mindset toward the poor, hungry and homeless. It shows up in churches, organizations, city councils, and it has been increasingly disdainful, punitive, judgmental and patronizing. Someone, somewhere came up with the argument that charity encourages dependence and ill behaviors, and it is not helpful to give… it is actually harmful, and disabling. It intercepts and interferes with lives, as people can only grow and sustain themselves if they pull themselves up.

    The woman with her babies, sitting on the boardwalk would today be met with the following: How could you do that to your children… we’re going to have to take them away. What did you do to get in this position… drugs… drink? You have to tell us of a specific event that caused you to need our help… if you are chronically poor we can’t help you. We can’t help you if you don’t have an address or bank account. Tell us what your plan is to get out of this position. We no longer give any cash… we may pay a bill if you can provide a bill… up to a certain amount. We will only help you one time per year.

    That’s where the concept leads, and who knows… if I was someone who felt overwhelmed by the enormity of need, and maybe a little fearful, I might give consideration to the ‘when you help them you hurt them’. But the thing is, I’ve been there… I’ve been poor. I’ve traveled around the block you might say – from farm girl to comfortable corporate wife to needy welfare mom. There was never a moment where I was ‘into being poor’; I never felt okay asking for help; I felt twisted inside when forced to lie in order to get a bill paid; and my spirit was always battered by the disdain and the patronizing attitudes.

    Our system is designed for poverty, hunger and homelessness, i.e. “The poor will always be with us.” There is no need to discuss why, as we already know who and what the matrix of control serves. Today we see the system clamping down even harder… the war on the poor is becoming full-blown. To me, the cold-hearted concept of charity that I described stems from a matrix-induced mix of fear and bogus psychology, with a dash of new agey thought, and a few drops of “Jesus didn’t really say what the book says he said.”

    It’s that dash of new agey thought that bothers me. So let’s think about what charity would look like in a slightly better world… one wherein we recognize that a person might have experienced, or created, circumstances of poverty, or might have chosen an incarnation into poverty, and at the same time we deeply respect that person. Their worthiness will never be questioned… if… we look upon them as another light; albeit one that is walking the hard road to self-love and dignity.

    Would responding to their need be an infringement on their evolution?

    From my own life experience, giving and receiving that touches the heart of both participants, is most often of a personal nature having nothing to do with organizations or institutions. It’s just an act of love with no attachment to the outcome. It could be time, attention, expertise, money, labor, food, auto repair, blankets, a smile, or a “hang in there brother”… whatever the giver can afford.

    There are moments when an act of love can have incredible, lifelong meaning to both the recipient and the giver. We don’t need to hesitate to give if it’s in our hearts to do so… and I suspect it’s in an awful lot of our hearts to do so. Whether we buy into the ‘season of giving’ or not, we can embrace charity. She’s not materialistic… she’s a sweet heart.

    About the Author

    Ida Lawrence is an author, blogger, copywriter and editor based in Atlanta, Georgia. She has contributed to and edited two books on racial justice and human rights, and numerous articles on human rights, self-empowerment and related subjects. Her latest book is entitled The Warrior’s Way to Heaven on Earth. Ida has also published a companion book of blog favorites from http://talk2momz.com/.

    This article is offered under Creative Commons license. It’s okay to republish it anywhere as long as attribution bio is included and all links remain intact.

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