Wednesday, November 8, 2023

When the world's going mad, try to get the basics right


With all the political chaos in this country, and waves of illegal aliens pouring across our southern border, and "woke" policies screwing up our institutions and corporations, and education a joke, and world affairs drowning in blood, a lot of people get to the point of despair.  They ask themselves, "Why bother?  If things are going to hell in a handbasket, I can't stop them, and can't alter their course, so why not just give up and reach for the nearest bottle to drown my sorrows?"

Wrong approach, big-time.

It's hard to accept that we can't affect the "big picture" . . . but we can't.  It's as simple as that.  Nothing I as an individual can do will influence a corporation, or a government, or a nation to do something different.  So, I simply must accept that.  Why beat my head against a brick wall?

On the other hand, there's a lot I can do to affect myself, and my family, and my immediate environment.  If I help get all those things right, then my family and those around us will live happier lives.  If families around us live happier and more successful lives, we'll spread the message by example.  If enough of us do that, we can change a suburb, or a town, or even a region.  We can't affect things from the top down - so why not affect them one life at a time, from the ground up?

That's why I've persevered with this blog for all these years.  I can't persuade everyone, and my voice isn't anywhere near loud enough to be heard above the blather from the bully pulpits of this world.  Nevertheless, I still have a pastor's heart, after all my years doing that for real.  I still have a voice.  If I can use my voice to reach one, or two, or three people every day, I can help them.  If they, in turn, use their voices to reach one, or two, or three other people every day, that spreads.  Sure, it'll never be noticed in the "big picture" - but enough of us doing that can change the "big picture".  If we can do that in the right way, in the right direction, the world can still be a better place because we're in it.  We may not be able to change every place, but we can help to change the place we're in;  and if enough of us do that, our combined influence can reach a surprising distance.

So . . . in the midst of all the sturm und drang going on all around us . . . what can each and every one of us do, to make a practical difference?

  • We can start by being thankful to God (or, if we don't believe in God, to whatever benevolent but impersonal universe we may recognize) for the good things we have - people we love and/or care about, food on our tables, roofs over our heads, and so on.  The simple, little things we take for granted - but many in this world lack, and would cheerfully commit murder to have instead of the abject deprivation and poverty in which they live.
  • That done as a first step, we can work hard at maintaining and improving what we have.  All the little things that make a house into a home (cleaning, cooking, laundry, sweeping, and so on) have to be done;  but instead of complaining about doing them, let's be grateful we have enough to need to do them.  Many don't.  There's a lot to be said for a home, for all it takes effort and upkeep.
  • Let's do what we can to stay healthy.  That's not only avoiding disease, but trying to keep fit, maintain a healthy weight and lifestyle, and so on.  It's not easily done today, and our society isn't exactly structured to help us do so.  There are lots of temptations to avoid, and lots of simple things we can do that aren't pleasant or enjoyable (most of us don't like sweating or sore muscles in order to get and keep fit).  Nevertheless, doing them now often means a healthier, less stressful future.
  • I figure many are reading those first three points and tossing their heads in disdain.  "None of that will make a difference to our world!  You're just spouting pious platitudes!"  Well, have you looked around you lately - not just at your own neighborhood, but your town, your city, your state?  How many people don't have those things, and desperately want them?  How many are so drugged-up and disoriented they can no longer think of or remember them?  How many cities have their own Tenderloins (see below)?  If more of us did these simple things, and got them right, and tried to spread their message, how many fewer Tenderloins would there be because of our example?

Let's go further.

  • I've written often about preparing for hard times and emergencies.  A lot of people say they can't afford to do that . . . but they can afford to drink, or smoke, or spend an evening at the casino.  What if, every month, they used half the money they devote to those pleasures to instead build up a reserve of essential foods and supplies, so that if hard times come, they can look after themselves instead of joining the hundreds, or thousands, or millions of people who will overwhelm any attempt to help them?  What if we prepare, not just to help ourselves, but to help others who are close to us?  If one family can help two or three others - friends, relatives, whatever - even with the simplest things, and that group of families can help others nearby in the same way, that can drastically reduce the strain on emergency services, and make life more livable for all of us.  That's worth a thought, because we don't live in isolation from each other, as Benjamin Franklin so trenchantly pointed out.
  • There's a certain peace of mind in being as ready as we can be for the curve balls life will undoubtedly throw at us.  We may not be able to survive an earthquake, or a hurricane, or a nuclear explosion if World War 3 breaks out:  but a freeze, or a heat wave, or a break in a water main, or a short-term interruption of the supply network?  A kid faces an important examination at school?  A car breaks down?  The water heater dies?  We can cover those things as best we can, and we're willing and ready to do so if need be.  Just knowing that makes us sleep better at night.  It should.
  • We can raise our children - and help our friends raise their children - to be as strong, versatile and prepared to face life as they possibly can be.  The legacy we leave future generations can be positive, or negative.  I'd rather focus on the positive, thanks very much.  There's enough negativity all around us already.  Why add to it?  As Jim Davis' Garfield put it:

  • Finally, let's never forget to count our blessings.  Most of us have more of them than we can recognize - but we'd sure remember them if we suddenly had to do without them!  Think back to those Tenderloin folks shown above.  How many of them have lost almost everything, to land up in such a situation?  Most were ordinary people like us.  Even as we try to help those we can, let's be very, very grateful we haven't hit the same slippery slope that they did.

Trite?  Possibly . . . but it's the only way I know to deal with life.  Let's get the basics right, one step at a time, one day at a time.  I doubt that any of us have got all of them right, all of the time.  We could all stand to do better.  If enough of us try to do that, I think we may be surprised at what a difference we can make (with God's help, for those who believe as I do) to the world we live in, and those we love, and the people around us.  For those who don't believe as I do . . . try it anyway.  You might be surprised!



Anonymous said...

An excellent reminder. A lot of what constitutes 'prepping ' would be considered normal lifestyle 3 generations ago. People have been drugged or lulled into subservience to the system of this world for the profit of another.

Anonymous said...

You make some good points, Sir. I'm one of those forlorn, what's-the-point-anymore-lets-just-start-shooting-them people. Honestly, I'm so tired of swimming upstream with these people.
My sister has been involved in animal rescue for a long time. She gets so much from it, but has to be hard. I often wondered, and even asked, why she does it... I mean, you rescued 15 kittens from some trailer in West Va. last week, 20 in N. Va. this week... how many next week? It never ends. The problem doesn't go away, it doesn't change anything.

"It changed something for that one kitten."

OK, you got a point there, Sis.

So that's what I've switched to doing, instead of trying to help others. I help myself. I don't mean that selfishly, I mean what Peter is saying - take care of your list, get your house in order, do everything you can do and do it to the best of your ability and means. If you still have some bandwidth at the end of the week, there's probably a kitten somewhere nearby you'd mean the world to.

EricW said...

Good words, Peter. The wreckers want the world to burn, and if we don't stick together to maintain islands of hope and sanity, we'll burn along with the wicked.

Eaton Rapids Joe said...

I would say that is "A Million Dollar Post" but a million dollars isn't what it used to be.

So, it is "A Trillion Dollar Post". I like to stay ahead of the curve.

Thanks for writing that. It is awesome!

Anonymous said...

I agree strongly.
Do what you can for your little corner of the world.
In large part, this means living in opposition to the destructive ways of the world - live simpler and within your means, live (plan) for the long term, do what's right over what's easy.
As the Bible says, the borrower is slave to the lender and while there is a highway to hell, there is a stairway to heaven. Don't follow the masses in mindless entertainment and live within your means.
Make good choices in family and debt - you don't need the latest car, biggest house, or latest gadgets.
Let sex wait until you're married, wait to get married until you've got a good job. Work hard at your job and don't screw it up by failing a drug test or partying late on a work night.
Simple things - but they're not easy.

Anonymous said...

you are right, directing us to be thankful in all we have, and by God's grace, provisions are made for all, even non-believers, for now. Things are changing, rapidly. In the second letter to the Corinthians, the Spirit directed Paul to write, "God was in Jesus Christ, reconciling the world,(people) to Himself, not imputing their sins to them. And we , (believers) are supposed to be ambassadors of this reconciliation. I wish I would remember this more often.

Dave Bagwill said... of your best and I will take it to heart!

JWM said...

Wonderful advice. I preach some version of this sermon to my friends on a regular basis when we get caught up in the awfulness of this age and time. But sometimes there is this gap between acknowledgement of the Truth, and truly accepting it. It easy to keep these things in mind, but the discouragement creeps in through that gap. It's a near constant battle to keep the discouragement at bay. Gotta' keep trying, though. No good at all in giving up.


Dan said...

Anyone who thinks we can't affect a huge corporation need only ask Anheuser Busch how individuals affected their bottom line. We CAN make a difference where it counts if enough of us act. But we ALL have to do so.

Anonymous said...

In all of the recorded collapses in human history going back to to the twelfth century BC some part of humanity has survived and carried on, this time will be no different. It is incumbent on the good people to try to survive to do the rebuilding and reshaping of the future. Prepping is not a guarantee, you can die no matter how prepared, it is the luck of the draw, but not prepping is a guarantee of failure.
The lives of those who come after will depend on what we lay the foundation for.

Xoph said...

One of the worst things done has been to let the government expand into areas that were run by volunteers and charities. I learned the hard way to only help those who help themselves. The government makes an industry of helping the lazy and deceitful and helping those who need help in such a way they don't learn to stand on their own two feet. When I was young and without extra funds offered to work on my daughter's school (Catholic). I was told that wasn't allowed due to insurance. The point to the above, the government has destroyed those acts that make us a community and one that cares for one another.

Perhaps, when we are cleaning up the mess and get to the serious business of limiting gov't interference we can take this lesson to heart. Peter's approach is the best not only for our own souls, but is really the only sustainable approach.

Anonymous said...

Helping others.
In the deep South, we've had the longest, hottest and rainfree summer that anyone could remember. It was so hot that the daytime beggars gave up that day job. And no emaciated bodies were discovered. What does that say?_____. Long ago we began carrying a bottled water and protein bar for beggars. We pass on to them along with all the fast food coupons from the mail All of it relieves our conscience and wallets. We try to see Jesus in each of them (Samaritan). The ones who are smoking when cigs are so expensive? Well, we just pray for them.

Vermont Farm Wife said...

This is so true. We live in a very rural area and only have a few neighbors, but we put a lot of effort into maintaining a helpful relationship with them. Some are conservative (yes, in Vermont), some are Team D, but they are good people and there just aren't enough good people around.

I am a very good sourdough bread baker so I always bake a little extra for our neighbors, ditto with the jams I make and excess produce from our huge garden. I start extra seedlings every spring so I'm sure my neighbors have veg plants. My husband, an electrician by trade, is always available to help out when one of them runs into an electrical problem. I have taught the neighbors to pressure can their venison during hunting season - it's more fun than just doing it alone - and I've sewed baby clothes for their new grandchildren.

Last spring, when my husband was in hospital following a heart attack, we had a couple of tremendous snow storms, feet of snow in a day or two. Those same neighbors came over with their tractor and snow shovels and we all got my drive and walkways cleared in no time. When one of them found out that I was eating a great deal of Hormel chili (because I didn't feel like cooking for one), she brought me a tub of the most delicious homemade soup I've ever had, and whenever we visit our sons in another state, one or another of the neighbors are always available to look after our livestock when we're away.

None of these things is difficult or costs anything except a bit of time, but having close neighbors we can count on is precious, a kind of insurance.