FROM SCOTTSDALE, ARIZONA
A Christmas Editorial 2008 – by Bob Djurdjevic
SCOTTSDALE, Dec 25 - There were three days left till Christmas. I was in a mellow mood, thinking about what I might do on Christmas Eve or Day. Thought I could go over to the Mayo Clinic near my place, and offer to do some volunteer work, maybe play piano for patients and staff. So going to a shopping center would have been the last thing on my mind on that Monday morning. But I needed to get some supplies from my eye doctor. And her office was in a shopping center.
As I was turning into the parking lot, I caught a glimpse of a blonde woman through the wheels of a high-riding SUV. Just for a split second, she looked to be sitting on a curb. Then the SUV moved and all I could see was Bridgestone tires.
At first, I thought the woman was waiting for a friend to pick her up. But that would be an unusual place to do it. Her ride could not stop very well in the middle of all that traffic. So I got curious. When I was finished with my business at the Eyemaster store, I decided to check her out. I walked back toward her instead of driving, so I would not be holding up traffic if I decided to stop and talk to the woman.
As I was approaching her, I noticed a small handwritten sign on the pavement next to her. It read: “LOST EVERYTHING BUT FAITH.” The words were scrawled with a black marker on a cardboard backing of a notepad.
The woman looked up when she saw me coming. She was in her mid-40s, with curly blonde hair and deep-set blue eyes. "Scandinavian?" I thought. "Maybe from the Midwest originally?"
She looked well groomed. A black cashmere coat over blue jeans is certainly not something a "regular hobo" would wear, I made another mental note. But there was pain or sadness in her eyes. Which is why she reminded me of the picture of little girl I saw in a Moscow, Russia, paper in Sep 2008, at the depth of Russia's financial crisis (see photo).
“Hello, brother,” the woman said, putting down what looked like a college textbook into which she was scribbling something. She managed half a smile. "Studying?" I thought.
“What happened?” I pointed at her sign.
She had lost her job as her business went bankrupt. Then she lost her home. Now she is living in a Christian shelter. In other words, hers is sad story which is unfortunately becoming typical nowadays in our country.
The number of companies and individuals filing for bankruptcy in calendar 2008 will exceed one million. That's up 33% from last year, nearly double the number of bankruptcy filings from two years ago. The biggest increases occurred in California, already up 81% over year last, followed by Arizona and Delaware, up 78% and 74% respectively in the first 11 months of this year over 2007.
Furthermore, the number of people filing for unemployment benefits hit a 26-year high last week, as the deepening recession forced more employers to cut jobs, the Washington Post reported yesterday (Dec 24). The last time claims were that high was Nov. 27, 1982. Plus the U.S. GDP is expected to fall about six percent in the current quarter, making it the worst economic performance since the Great Depression. So we are experiencing a "perfect storm," economically speaking.
But statistics like that did not cross my mind until later, when I thought again about this unusual encounter.
“I’m sorry I cannot give you a job,” I said. “So the only thing I can do right now is offer you a little money and lots of sympathy.” I gave her a “twenty.”
“God bless you, brother,” she said as she touched my hand.
“God bless you, too!” I replied, tapping her lightly on the shoulder as a gesture of encouragement. “Merry Christmas,” I added as I walked away.
Later, I thought about how much courage it took to shed one’s pride and go through such indignity as begging in a public place. Then I wondered, "Is she really of this world? Has God maybe put this woman here to test our generosity?” I know of cases like that (not in Hollywood films!).
I have never seen anyone begging in this location before or since. And I have never behaved the way I did this Tuesday. Was I being led by an invisible hand to that woman? Hm…
Meanwhile, I called Mayo when I came home later that afternoon to offer my volunteer services, including piano playing. A nice woman with a British accent said, “that’s very kind of you to offer, but I am afraid we have to turn it down. You see, hospital rules require each volunteer to undergo special training. And there is just no time for that before Christmas.”
“So bureaucracy has to stick its ugly face even into Christmas,” I said dejectedly. “People are no longer allowed to give from the heart. Some bureaucrat has to approve it first.”
“I’m so sorry,” the woman said. I believe she was. “I don’t make the rules.”
Money Can't Buy Good Health
Later, I thought of Mary and Joseph’s “no room at the inn”-story. If modern healthcare administrators had their way, baby Jesus would never have been born. At least not near any of their pristine hospitals. Can you just see them turning up their noses at the thought of a baby being born in a manger? Yet that’s exactly what happened on this day some 2008 years ago. That baby not only survived the unsanitary conditions in which he entered this world, but went on to change the world for over two millennia. By contrast, modern medicine can kill as well as cure.
o 106,000 patients die each from negative effects of medication
o 80,000 patients die each year due to complications from infections incurred in hospitals
o 20,000 deaths per year occur from other hospital errors
o 12,000 people die every year as a result of unnecessary surgery
o 7,000 medical malpractice deaths per year are attributed to medication errors in hospitals
This adds up to 225,000 deaths each year due to human negligence of some kind, according to the The Journal of the American Medical Association (Oct 2008). And that’s in a country that prides itself on having the best medical care in the world. And the number is growing every year, as are the medical insurance and other healthcare costs. Instead of trying to get better at what they do, doctors and hospitals just buy insurance to protect themselves against malpractice suits and up their fees.
In short, the more we pay, the less value we receive. It’s a case of reverse gratification. Welcome to American plutocracy! (also see "American Plutocracy Is Alive & Thriving," Dec 2008).
So what’s the point of this? That we should all go back to a caveman’s lifestyle and live in filth? Of course, not. The point is, when man tries to play God, it usually fails miserably.
Doctors don’t cure, God cures. Priests don’t bless, God blesses. Shamans don’t heal, God heals. Shamans, for example, are only conduits who can tap into the spirit world and call on the forces of the universe to do the healing through the luminous energy field. If that’s the Creator’s will, that is. If it is not, 10 million doctors or priests or shamans won’t be able to get rid of even a simple cold, let alone cure a patient of some more serious disease.
And if it is God’s will, cancers will disappear, broken limbs will be reset, brain tumors will go away, trees will grow out of rocks (right), reindeer will appear in the sky (left)… In other words, “miracles” will happen as man would perceive such events.
How do I know? Because I have seen things like that with my own eyes, and heard such firsthand accounts with my own ears. And I have experienced some “miracles” myself.
In short, what the medical profession and the scientific/materialistic world call “progress,” often times means going backward. Man was a lot closer to God centuries ago, the spirits have told a group of western shamans in Peru last summer. No one who lives in the western “secular” world would argue with that. Yet, those whose thirst for power and overblown egos leads them to develop a “God syndrome,” such as scores of doctors, politicians, generals, lawyers… to mention some typical groups, will all have to face the Creator in the end, the spirits have also told us.
Kinder World Starts with Our Single Acts of Kindness
So common sense would suggest that it would behoove us all to try to play God less, and try to discern God’s will more. That's so we could get and stay aligned with the forces of the universe, and thus be happier in this life.
How do we do that? We can start by helping others less fortunate, rather than spending, consuming, wasting Mother Earth’s precious resources on our own selfish gratification, or exploiting other people’s misfortunes or shortcomings for our benefit.
Too much to ask? Too idealistic? Of course, it is. But if that’s what you think, then you’re only confirming how warped modern man has become.
People used to be a lot kinder to each other than we are today, especially in troubled times, such as during the Great Depression or during two world wars. And now that our country and half the world are in a deep recession, it may not be a bad idea to start doing something other than just “business as usual," if we are to pull out of it any time soon.
Why are we allowing the politicians to use our money to bail out the bankers whose greed put us into this position in the first place?
“Those who deformed us, cannot reform us,” read a slogan on a Prague wall during that country’s “Velvet Revolution” against the communist government in 1989 (see photo). The same applies to America 2008.
So rather than look for someone else to bail us out, let’s start doing it ourselves. We could be giving a helping hand to each other. We could each resolve to do at least one kind thing for another human being every day of 2009, for example, especially for a stranger, like that blonde beggar. That would be an act of love and compassion. That would please the Creator.
That’s not such a taxing resolution, is it? Yet, “a thousand mile journey begins with a first step” (Confucius). If all of us did just that one little thing every day, we could collectively build the biggest mountain of goodwill the world has ever seen. And that would pull us out of this recession quicker than any government actions, which only set us back while helping the culprits.
We have a choice. We can earn God’s wrath by trying to play God or allowing others to do so. Or we can receive God’s love by aligning ourselves with his/her will. Which would you choose? Which will you choose in 2009?
And that's all she wrote on this Christmas Day 2008...