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And once again, for the 14th time I find myself sitting here with my heart in the right place and my cursor once again thwarts me. Only this time I got rid of my monitor so I can't see it. I will show him.

And I am sure you are all wondering what my interests might be entwined around today. Well this time it is about humanity. Now I am 'not talking about the human' race per say, but more about our attitude. At least one facet, and it is a facet that saddens me sometimes. But without any further ado let me elaborate.

Diogenes once said, 'I threw my cup away when I saw a child drinking from his hands at the trough'. Now this quote can mean a lot of different things to different people. But for me it means that one needs to see the reality of the world when examining one's own existence. Kinda prophetic don't you think? But one might ask when I though about this, or what sparked this train of thought? Well, let me tell you. It was at the local shopping mall. And one might then wonder why in all that God holds dear would I be pondering the humanity of the world around me at the local shopping mall. Well, then I would ask, 'Doesn't everyone?' Then I would realize the silliness of this question and then go on to illustrate my point.

It was a sunny morning here in Watertown, NY. I, having just moved into my place, was seeking to purchase some nice adornments for the walls of my 2-bedroom apartment. Now then, I get out of my truck and start making my way into the mall. I noticed at a distance that there was a homeless gentleman sitting outside the door of the mall asking the passers-by for some change. I kinda smiled half heartedly (you know the way you do when you see something sad but realize that is just the way it is) and dig into my pockets for some spare change to give this guy. I figure, God and all those around me have blessed me with good fortune, so I can at least spare some change. Everyone is worth some change.

But, also in front of me, are about 3-4 groups of people, you know families and such. Well, of course this guy asks them for some change. Well, it was like they had been accosted or violated for the change. It was as if he was Rumplestilskin asking for their first-born. These people, within ear shot of me, go on to say stuff like 'Get away from me you bum', and 'Why should I, you'll just buy alcohol', and 'Get a job'. This guy just accepts their response and goes on asking. It obviously hurt the man, but he needed some money so he kept at it.

That is about the time I arrived to him. He asked me, and of course I obliged him. He wasn't asking me for my paycheck, or a large sum... just whatever I had in pocket. And when I handed it to him, he had the look of a child under a Christmas tree. I couldn't have made that man any happier. Then I listened to his story for a couple of minutes. He had the most disparaging one I have heard yet. I mean they make country songs about this stuff. And whether or not it is true is not important, he believed it so in my mind it happened. And I wished him a good day and made my exit. Saddened of course, but I went on with my existence as he did his. He wasn't looking for special favours; he was looking for pocket change. Hey, we can all get cancer, we can all get AIDS, we can all get sick or have a bad time. WE ARE ALL HUMAN BEINGS. WE ARE ALL HUMANS BEING (and yes I meant the spelling). And this is when I thought of Diogenes and this quote.

You see, more often than not, we go through life thinking that we are the only ones with problems and that all other problems with all other people are subordinate than everybody else's. Everyone, including this gentleman I speak of is no different, is luckier than someone else. I have not met that man or woman at the bottom yet; though I have met people that are further down the food chain we call 'society' than myself. All too often we see our lives as special and having no bearing on those around us. This is not the case, in my opinion. And I am not going to get all religious on you, for that is not my way, I think that way sucks. But I will get all 'HUMAN' on you. We all have problems; we all fall on bad times at one point or another. But some people never recover. Now sure there are those that are purely lazy in their existence and we see them from time to time, but to stereotype all those who fall in the category of unfortunate as all the same is wrong. And most of us think the dollar of fifty cents we drop in the collection basket on Sundays is enough, and we leave the church or place of worship feeling good about ourselves, when someone maybe not even a mile away is eating the 4 day old raw chicken pieces we threw away.

Simone Weil wrote once;

'Attachment is the greatest fabricator of illusions; reality can be attained only by someone who is detached.'

I know I am getting all 'Buddha' on you, but the precepts of this quote and Buddhism as well appeal to my sense of humanity. So pardon the 'soap box' as you will. But no problem amongst humans is any greater than anyone else's. Sure, sometimes we get preoccupied with our lives and our own needs and necessities... that is only human. But to turn a blind eye to those who need more than we have is probably the greatest sin we can commit. In my opinion, worse than murder. You may say, 'Hey he will only buy alcohol with the money'. And I say, I buy alcohol with my money, you might buy it with yours, does this make us evil or immoral or lazy. NO. Who cares what he or she does with the money. You helped to stop a pain for a couple minutes. And you might say 'Well he or she is just lazy and a slob and a detriment to society'. And I would argue that you don't know the hard times they have fell upon, so who are we to judge. And until you can separate yourself like Weil said, then you can never know the reality, for in your mind a reality of the world will always be subjective.

Every opinion we have is always biased with our own morals and ethics and background. But it isn't until you can get to the heart of the matter and separate your natural judgment that you can truly understand what it is that makes us what we are. Everyone has a story. Everyone has a pain. NO pain is any greater or any lesser than anyone else's. Do you honestly think that that mother with 4 children who is too poor to afford birth control or baby formula is proud that her house says 'UHAUL MEDIUM SIZE BOX' on it? Every existence is wrought with some amount of suffering. It is the acknowledgement of this suffering that makes a human truly a human.

So what is the point of this article? I am sure we have all seen the people on the corner, whoring themselves for money, or begging in the front of the capitol building. Just once, only once is all I ask, rather than pass someone by despite their plea for kindness, ask them what made them that way. Strive to understand why they have to sleep with strangers for money, or beg to you in all your haughtiness for what ever it might be in your pockets. If you are unsatisfied with the answer... so what. It isn't your existence. And it isn't your place to justify theirs. Give the beggar the money, and walk away from the whore. Just don't pass judgments until you really know where it is that life went wrong for THEM. Until the reality of that sets into your mind, you have NO place to pass a judgment. Is judgment human? Yes it is. Is it called for? More often than not, NO. I have seen the homeless, and the contrite, and the unfortunate all my life. And at the beginning I passed the same judgments upon them. But that is because I knew no better. Now, I understand that to every life a little rain must fall. To some the rain never stops. We all go home to our places of residence, to our friends, to our family, to our lives. Some people can never go home. Random acts of kindness are great. But constant ones are better. The kernel of truth will only be learned from LISTENING, not JUDGING. When faced with that that is different from our own, seek the reality behind it, rather than the reality you put upon it.

So to you all fellow researchers, I wish Godspeed and I look forward to hearing of your further endeavors.

Aaron O'Keefe

08.08.02 Front Page

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