Poverty Giving & Nature

We have just seen the absolute destruction that can happen with almost no warning, one minute sitting with family, the next fighting for your life in a swirling whirlpool of stones, bodies and debri. And then all around you is death and destruction, not even any way to get food. Happens in an instant,

I had many conversations with the people of beautiful Pangandaran in Java, wonderful simple people living their lives in a region of great beauty and abundance. Then a piece of the wall of the Sunda Trench broke off, followed by a terrifying Tsunami and in a second, all was destroyed and hundreds of people dead. My Friend Erin said it was like being in a washing machine of water mud and rocks. Few had the strength to survive it. I only saw the devastation after a year or so and even then it was absolute.

I wrote this a year or so back, but it remains true today with the addition of a messed up political situation in Australia and a world dogged by men of little compassion and a lot of self greed. Things can only get better.

Poverty, pass the biscuits!

Jen asked had I seen a short film on an Indian man who was feeding the poor… Nuhuh, I am such a goody goody two shoes, think I am doing ok with my one or two donations of food and money for the poor each year.  Well I am not, by comparison to this man, I am not even close.

Watching it squeezed my heart. I’ve been to India, I have seen the poor, desparation, hunger. Felt it, specially in the young and the old. Seen kids who maim themselves so they can beg. Seen the old dragging themselves through one day to the next, just so they can die with some dignity. Yet I have managed to walk away.

This man could not walk away, he shames me.

Sometimes we all feel down, bit flat. Upset when politicians muck up, upset when we see the way life is, food is. Deep in avarice, unable to control our lives. Lost so much. Forced to chase the dollar, just to live. It’s not easy.

Yet, we have never faced this, never faced not knowing where the next mouthful of food is coming from. I remember an Indian kid I met in Dharamsala during a visit to prop up my ailing philosophical beliefs. Little kid, maybe 9 or 10, begging. Been begging for years. his begging supported his family, Mother and sister. He had no place to sleep. He said it was only difficult at night when it was cold. It gets very cold in Dharamsala. Dharamsala is knee deep in Buddhist monks and nuns, maybe that was a good choice on his part. It truly rattled me for a day or so, I recovered, picked myself up.

Same trip I ran into a girl I had met in Australia at a Buddhist centre, she was experiencing life on the streets in India with nothing. somehow she had lost everything, passport, the lot. She said she lived by doing a bit of sewing, she was good at it and it brought in enough for some rice. It was a puzzling, confronting experience. Westerners were supposed to be helping Indian poor, not the other way. At the time I may have justified it by thinking things like karma. Maybe I was reminded of one of my mothers sayings.. ‘there but for the grace of god go I’. I wonder what happened to her.

Raised C of E, became Buddhist, caring sharing, travelled in Asia, seen the tough side of life, big family, lost and gained, weight and money. Worked hard, still do! Don’t feel like I have over indulged in the hedonistic side of life. I am shamed that I do so little.

How do I change, overcome the fear. Could I, would I be brave enough to do what this man does, would I ever be able to find the courage and strength. I doubt it. I might fool myself occasionally by thinking that my one or two good deeds are sufficient. They aren’t, barely touch the sides. Maybe I sustain my own self belief by comparing myself with others. But that’s an odious practice, means you judge others. If I look at the world around me in Australia, I will see little but people trying hard to live, keep up with debt and hold their jobs. I will see reflections of me, looking in a mirror.

Writing about this stuff is an apologia.. not real. A way of holding back the real issues, putting some space between, keeping the enemy at bay. A salve for the wound, a paste over the heart. In Buddhist teachings, wisdom and compassion walk hand in hand, the path of the saint, the Bodhisattva. It tells me that I am no saint, not close even.

And then the news today, ten thousand, maybe more, have lost their lives. Lost hope, lost homes, lost every damn thing. All because of a huge Typhoon that blasted in to their region and reeked havoc. We were spell bound that this was the biggest weather system ever recorded to make land fall. We seemed to not be aware of the massive human suffering that would occur, or in fact even that concerned. Just so long as it did not touch our own happy lives.

Well, it does.

I have a couple of Filipina friends, I got an attack of the panics, as the Super Typhoon started to make land fall, I worried. Fired off a couple of electro-contacts and crossed my fingers. One of them had managed to haul himself out of the swirling all consuming poverty of Filipino life, the other hadn’t and I was constantly trying to help him. Everything I ever did for Joven resulted in some sort of failure and the number of times I had been forced to rescue him from a variety of horrible situations and get him home to the relative safety of his sisters house, was staggering. With Joven’s luck, he could have been standing on the beach as the typhoon approached, convinced of his survival. I don’t think he even got my electro-message, I just prayed that he was inland with his sister and not once again ‘trying his luck’ in a world that simply did not understand him.

In all this madness, all this life in a world that demands more and more, becomes more confusing, less human, less caring, lets raise a cup of tea to all those people on the planet who can’t keep up, who are poor, who struggle with life. Lets spare a thought for the kids who will never know anything but a life of hard work and poor reward.

Lets celebrate life, for all its greatness and horror, it may often not be nice, it may be extremely difficult, but it remains an amazing thing.

~ by peterwatson on October 1, 2018.

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