Too much good fortune can make you smug and unaware…
Rachel Lyman Field
What’s up with me? I’m in a serious blogger mood for a change, so bear with me through my rant du jour. Although my post is new, the subject matter is an old irritant and recent events have stirred up the rantz in my pantz. So I have to flap them around in the cyber-breezes for a good airing out. Here goes…
What’s bugging me? I’m very happy to live in a country that participates in so many fundraising events. But a few days ago, Toronto’s dumb-ass anti-media mayor made a rare public appearance at a downtown event – a World Partnership Walk to end global poverty. When asked by the shocked media why he chose to attend, he said that he wanted to help those less fortunate. And in a later interview, he said he wanted to help those who aren’t as well off as we are. Ugh! This has always been an offensive expression to me and it is used all the time.
A matter of need: Good fortune might be about luck at winning the lottery. But if we think ourselves more fortunate than others because we are materially well off or prosperous, do we also consider ourselves supremely favoured and separate from the great unwashed? Does it elevate us to the heights of being better than those poor unfortunates who need our help? Being in need is not a matter of being ‘fortunate’ or ‘unfortunate’, but a matter of circumstance.
Us and them syndrome: Even when I visit schools I hear the same term being used by our children – “We are doing this to help children less fortunate than we are,” they say with pride. And with all good intentions in mind, this separation of thought is not a healthy path to global thinking. Perhaps our division from “those people” provides a first line of defense against our ever having to share that destiny.
Giving thanks: As Canadians, we all have a lot to be thankful for and no one likes to think of themselves in a needful situation. But circumstances can change quickly in life and events both controllable and uncontrollable can catapult us into a place of need. The thing to remember is that we are all in this big lifeboat together. And our joint mission (should we choose to accept it) is to help each other find our way.
Helping hands: In the end, we are none of us more “fortunate” than the other. Our situations may vary and some of us may need more help than others. But in the overall scheme of life’s purpose – our fortunes, our net worth and our affluence, have nothing to do with who we truly are as human beings. But how we share our lives and help those in need has everything to do with it.
Final word: So could we please stop using the expression “helping those less fortunate” and simply say we are:
– helping someone in need? Yes!
– helping the homeless? Absolutely!
– helping the poor? You got it!
– helping to feed the hungry? Without a doubt!
– helping to eradicate world poverty? Right on!
But don’t be as arrogant as that buffoon we call the mayor of Toronto and consider yourself more fortunate because of it.
Now’s here a poem I wrote many years ago to bring it home:
The faceless man trudges on
In clothes of tattered rags,
His bloodshot eyes reflect his way of life,
He walks the beaten path each day
Not knowing why he died,
Dark memories of living and of strife.
Once upon a time
He was a man of many dreams,
The hours in a day went far too fast,
But fruitless were his efforts
And soundless were his words,
For much too soon his future had all passed.
Don’t scoff or scorn or ridicule
Unless your life is pure,
Of selfishness and vanity and sin,
For who’s to say the road you walk
But for a touch in time,
Is not the path of where this man has been?