How Do I Begin?

Regardless of what change we wish to make, or what adventure we wish to embark upon, the question of how to begin can often create the largest stumbling block for us. We look for advice, directional signs, or step-by-step instructions. Sometimes we need a clear outline to follow, and other times we want only a point in the right direction.

In this modern day of information overload, often when we ask the question, we find ourselves overwhelmed by the flood of answers we are given. Maybe we aren’t asking the right question, or maybe people aren’t listening to the question we are trying to ask?

In the enthusiasm to share answers, many will rush to supply great suggestions that have little to do with the needs of the person seeking help.

This information overload – or suggestion dump – became quite evident to me recently when a new quilt enthusiast asked the question, “How do I start?” The answers came pouring in with little regard to the personal situation of the newbie. Where do they live? What is their budget? Do they have any background in the skill set?

Without taking the time to learn a bit about the person asking the question, the answers not only can overwhelm but they can misdirect. Additionally, the flood of answers may begin to seem like attention seeking rather than assistance giving. The person who posed the question may find themselves wishing they had not.

There is an old English proverb that states, “Hell is full of good meanings, but heaven is full of good works.” Over time, it has been altered to, “The road to hell is paved with good intentions.”

Taking the time to understand the question – to understand the individual asking the question – is vital. The focus should be on that individual and not on ourselves, or worse, on our desire to promote others. When a person, for whatever reason asks, “How do I begin?”, we should do our best to remove obstacles rather than place more in their path.

Hoping that I am doing good works and not the other option, I have embarked upon Pithy Patchwork Projects. I explain a bit of my intent in this video.

Saith Me… Heirloom

I have inherited heirlooms from my grandmothers, but I don’t think they ever set out to make an heirloom. They were practical women who made beautiful textile creations. Almost all of items I have inherited have been used, some are even threadbare. The threadbare ones are cherished as much as the ones that are still waiting to fulfill a useful purpose.

This is why I make things to be loved rather than placed on display. Practical, everyday items can be beautiful. Beautiful, well-made items, when cared for, can be loved and be treasured and still remain beautiful. I would rather have the items I make get loved and get worn out than to have them last for generations in pristine condition.

Not Expendable

While a person can sign up for hazardous service in the military, police force, or other the other various service professions where life may be placed at risk, they cannot sign up to be the ones to die during a pandemic. The very notion that people could sacrifice themselves in such a way is ridiculous. Statements of this nature* promote the appalling belief that the vulnerable are expendable.

The vulnerable are not expendable. They are the ones we fight for, risk our lives for, and go to great lengths to defend from all harm.

 

Vunerable not Expendable

 

*Texas Lt. Governor voices what many may feel, but what goes against the advice of experts.

https://www.businessinsider.com/texas-dan-patrick-coronavirus-restrictions-worse-than-dying-2020-3

https://abcnews.go.com/Health/wireStory/texas-lieutenant-governor-us-back-work-69764597

Gift giving, the thought is not all that counts.

IMG_0886In a world where there are so many in need of food, warmth, and shelter, it is up to the giver to gift responsibly. Intent will never be of greater value than a gift received by one who truly benefits from it.

There are many reasons a person creates items that end up in charity boxes. I personally find knitting, crochet, etc. helps relieve my stress. However I would not want something that helps reduce my stress to become the thing that causes someone else stress. An act of compassion, love, or charity should come unburdened by expectation. Yet, society seems to demand that well-meaning gifts be accepted with meekness, even when the gifts cause burden or harm.

Year after year, well-meaning people gift friends and family with the handmade items, many also donate hats, scarves, and blankets to charitable causes with the hope that their efforts will bless the lives of the recipients. Each year, I read social media the complaints made by disappointed givers who find that their gifts have not been received with gratitude or with excitement. This is a reality in the world of handmade gifts. These posts are usually accompanied by comments of support for the gift-giver, and the general criticism for those who do not accept the gift with glee, or at least with feigned pleasure.

This year I have seen something new – an attack on a recipient who found the receipt of charity to be a burden, and who was rightfully justified in their feelings. Justification did little to mitigate the condemnation they received.

In the years following the U.S. decision to pursue military action in Afghanistan, there have been many charitable organizations dedicated to sending care-packages to troops serving far from home. In the early years, sending a box to “any service member” would get a package delivered to some random service member. Safety, security, and practicality have ended such deliveries. Now for such charitable deliveries to be received, an actual recipient’s name is required. Unfortunately, this means that organizations need a recipient, and it seems they are not worried about gaining the permission of the recipient before sending the care-package.

There are many reasons that the unsuspecting recipient might find it problematic to receive unsolicited gifts, but when their name is used by a charitable organization as the end point of 20, 30, 40 or more packages, there is little doubt that they would have a problem. The charity might envision a gleeful recipient acting as Santa as they hand out package after package to associates, but not all service members are in situations where they can do this.

Local, national, and international charities all seem to agree that random donations are problematic and not nearly the blessing that monetary funds provide. Sending unsolicited items and care-packages often cost time, energy, and money. The act of charity becomes the opposite – it becomes a burden.

Charity and gift-giving should not cause hardship or stress for the recipient. It is not just the thought that counts. The very basis for giving a gift is the rooted in a caring for another person, even a stranger. The joy of making a gift will never compare to knowing that gift is welcomed. Therefore, responsible gift-giving is paramount.

Turning the Other Cheek vs. Turning a Blind Eye

Where is the accountability in this statement?

No one can offend you unless you choose to be offended. 

A person may choose to remain offended, in essence to remain a victim of someone else’s offense, but they did not necessarily choose to be offended in the first place. Whether the offender intentionally or unintentionally caused offense, they should be held accountable for their actions.

Turning the other cheek and turning a blind eye are not one and the same.

What Choice Do We Have?

This wonderfully well-written blog post was shared with me today. It articulates the perception that Trump and his devout followers create. This perception is of their own making. It is difficult for the rational mind to make any other assumption than the ones outlined by this blogger.

The thing I have noticed, which I have been noticing elsewhere as well, is that there are so many confused people who are seeking a leader who does not require them to read or think on their own. They simply want someone to tell them what to do. Trump is excellent at reassuring his followers that they need not think because he will think for them. Somehow this assurance is more comfortable for them than continuing to struggle with an imperfect Hillary or a revolutionary Bernie. Certainly, it is more comforting than shifting through the mass populace of Republican candidates who only seem to confuse the GOP identity rather than define it.

Those who commented on this blog who either did not read it, or did not understand the literary nuances of it, or simply hated what they saw, struck out, attacking the blogger and demanding that the blogger give equal critical measure to the other candidates. Others who read the blog but found it to make them uncomfortable with their choice to follow Trump asked the blogger to tell them what other choice they have.

What other choice do we have? We can choose to do more than ask someone else to do the research and work for us. Yes, we all like to share a quick meme or thought, but we need to research and reason, rather than simply seek a shepherd to follow.

What will be remembered?

Being fully aware of political spin and propaganda, I am wondering if in the end this letter will be what history records for future generations to study.

Willingness to come together for war, but government shutdown in an attempt to stop a health care law. Where does this leave us and what does this mean for our future? Most importantly, what does this really say about us as a nation?

Reid to Boehner 2013

 

PDF of the letter can be found at the ‘letter’ link and at the following:  harry-reid-letter-to-john-boehner.pdf

Polling Questions

Is refusing to answer a poll question equated to the intent to abstain from voting, or is it seen as simply not believing anyone has a right to know how you vote?

How accurate are phone call polls when many people simply hang up? If only those entrenched in their party take the time to answer, are we actually polling the entire voting populace?

The undecided may not be the only ones not answering the questions.