Broken Lives

It’s very hard to imagine how and why people’s lives get broken — let alone their hearts getting broken, which may be a prerequisite to it all anyway.

But people’s lives do get broken, and it seems there’s no getting back to where they once were as happy people involved in our world.

We can see the homeless, the poor, the afflicted, and so many other populations of our modern world just left in their misery alone and unaided.

It seems as if there is no one to help out downtrodden people anymore. Corporate charities are not getting much through to them. It would appear that all donations get eaten up in
administrative costs of charity organizations. People have also become calloused
in their attitudes towards the
downtrodden.

One guess is that it’s because we just can’t imagine that kind of bad luck happening to us. It’s as if there’s a suit of armor and we are within it.

As a possible result of the tenuous nature of the nuclear family and the decrease of friendly neighborhoods, unfortunate people are falling off
the radar.

At that point, public institutions take over. And there is a profound difference between a government bureaucracy and a real human helping hand.

Surely, most broken lives can be repaired with some love and help from others, and a welcoming back into the human family.

But such behaviour is in scarce quantities these days, it would seem.

One is reminded of Charles Dickens’ “Christmas Carol”, wherein people ask Scrooge for some money to help the poor. Scrooge snaps back, asking if there are no workhouses, prisons, treadmills or Poor Law for such people. That’s terribly cold for human nature, and the whole point and message to take home from Dickens’ story. We can’t ignore the sad plight of other people with impunity. We must have hands-on help. Scrooge was finally convinced to help others, through his three spiritual and ghostly phases of past, present and future.

In the story, Scrooge is also shown two representative figures: Ignorance and Want. The Spirit of Christmas recants Scrooge’s words about workhouses and warns him not to doom such unfortunates.

Downtrodden people are a reflection of us and our society. They should never be allowed to sink so far if we are paying attention. If they exist, it is, to a great extent, also our fault.

If we consider the mentally ill and the state hospital wherein they are warehoused, we get into a moral quandary. Some people cannot be easily slipped into the general population without tremendous help. Some will never be able to be mainstreamed at all due to their profound illness. But that is a very complicated issue.

Most people can rejoin society if they are helped effectively. And money is not the answer. Not even simply a place to live is the answer. Full reintegration is the only answer. Everyone needs an appropriate job, a domicile, and a supportive social network and environment. Employers need people who truly care and don’t simply punch out of the company clock at the stroke of 5 p.m.

Helping to repair our moral universe is a resonating call to us all. We all should feel the moral and social symmetry and mutual responsibility of “there but for the grace of God go I.”

Eventually, dust swept under the rug forms bulges. We trip over them, and eventually learn to not sweep dust under the rug.

“Speaking in Silence” is a book of essays by profound and spiritual thinkers, edited by Susan Walker. It contains a beautiful piece of calligraphy by His Eminence the Tai Situpa Rinpoche, titled “The Four Immeasurable Thoughts.” They are loving-kindness, compassion, joy, and impartiality. And these are followed by the words,“may these four bring peace to the world.”

One also remembers the profoundly important words of Thomas a Kempis in his “Imitation of Christ”:

“Know for certain that thou oughtest to lead a dying life. And the more a man dieth to himself, so much the more a man begin to live unto God. No man is fit to comprehend heavenly things unless he submit himself to the bearing of adversities … “

And one also recalls a beautiful quote from the 1989 book “Seat of the Soul”, by Gary Zukav, in which it is said:

“Every experience, and every change in your experience, reflects an intention. An intention is not only a desire. It is the use of your will.”

We are being implored to spring into action.

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