What will we do for others today?
Image by Tosha Terpilowski from Pixabay
I pray this story will encourage further discussion of the serious issues it addresses.
I came across this quote from Rodolfo Hros, a writer on the online magazine platform of Medium.
“Breaking barriers, risking it all for something that has never been done before, and shooting for an ambitious vision has never been easy within any time frame. Every conquest that has transformed the world in one way or another has required significant effort, planning, and courage. More importantly, however, every one of them was motivated by leaders that could touch hearts and persuade minds to believe, give their best and fight for a common goal.”
We choose to do this not because it’s easy, but because it’s hard. | by Rodolfo Hrosz | Moonshot | Medium
When we ask ourselves the question What will we do for others today?, an ambitious vision is part of the answer. How can we solve the problems that confront us with bold brushstrokes on the canvas in which the answers take shape? We must in as hard as this, be patient in completing the painting.
Think of how a landscape painter completes their paintings. They involve more than painting the outline of the trees. The branches need to be shown. No detail is too small. Otherwise, the artist’s depiction of the scene is incomplete.
Addressing an issue is like doing a puzzle. My wife, Karen, is doing online jig-saw puzzles. At first they were easy. She gas gone up a few levels in the game. Now, they are getting increasingly difficult. The picture that was simple to fit in all the pieces of the puzzle together, has become a more obscure one. The jig-saw puzzles are taking longer to do.
What started as a joyful leisure-time activity has become more frustrating. But if the puzzle is too easy for Karen there is no challenge to it. The same can be said of solving issues that affect our lives. How committed would we be in doing that if the task was without effort? Aren’t our goals in life such as receiving a quality education worth the hard work to achieve them? What appreciation would we have for receiving a university education if the journey didn’t stretch us?
John F. Kennedy said in an address at Rice University in 1961, “We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too.”
Advocacy is one of those challenges we choose to accept. We commit ourselves to it not because it is easy, but because the people affected by us turning away and doing nothing is too great a burden to carry. Our love for humankind is too much to shift our eyes and our hearts away from doing what we can to help.
Please pray for all those involved in any form of advocacy. They get worn down. Many stop or reduce this taxing work because it takes a heavy toll losing more battles than you win. When you come up against an unwillingness or the reasons why others can’t help in a cause, and you need to explain that to those you give assistance to, that far away look in their eyes is one you never forget. The dimming of the light in their eyes cannot help but tug at your spirit if you have not become too numb, too distant from the suffering you see.
I share these thoughts to get you to think about how you can be there for other advocates with an open heart that is willing to help. This too is another piece of that puzzle in answering the question, What can we do for others today?
You can be that listening ear to an advocate. You can offer a cup of hot coffee. You can say, “What can I do to help you?” Then, follow through and do that.
Think of how powerful your actions would be. You could be the one who stops that advocate from giving up the fight.
Think of how helping someone who helps others would have you get up in the morning with a sense of purpose. That would give me more energy than a Tim Hortons coffee, but don’t tell them I said that. They might take away our Tims loyalty card.
A wise woman I know said to me, “People shouldn’t be so serious all the time. Times are tough, but we need to remember to laugh.”
I thought about that. It was as I was listening to Once in Royal David’s City sung by the choir of King’s College Cambridge, that these words spoke to me:
“…Tears and smiles like us He knew;
And He feeleth for our sadness,
And He shareth in our gladness.” 1
Christ in His humanity, who understood what it meant to be human, understands we will have times of feeling sad and glad. John 1:1 tells us He was the Word made flesh. But how does that truth connect with us today? Christ knows what being human is. He knows what we go through, because He is also divine. He was the Word or in the original Greek the divine logos. While scholars debate the exact meaning of this word, it essentially refers to Christ’s divinity.
Christ knows about every detail of our lives. I find that comforting. Life is stressful with all that is going on in our world. Knowing I can come to Him any time I need Him, gives me inner peace. With all the noise of life, we need time just to be silent.
These are hard times.
There is the injustice of the war in Ukraine. Men, women, children, and babies, helpless infants, have been murdered or have permanent disabilities. They are missing arms, legs, have become blind or have lost sight in one eye.
The loss of Ukrainian lives and those of its soldiers is estimated to be in the tens of thousands. Exact numbers are impossible to give. Many bodies are difficult to identify because bombs have torn them apart.
Ukrainian soldiers with permanent disabilities will never be soldiers again.
There are losses of an estimated 20,000 Russian soldiers
Putin, the oligarchs and countries who support him, are responsible for every Ukrainian and Russian death..
We have daily challenges.
A head of lettuce at our local grocery store is $6.50. That’s a 100 percent increase within a short period of time. Many are struggling to feed their families with such high prices for food.
The middle class is shrinking at an alarming rate.
Many are unemployed. Many who have work aren’t guaranteed full-time permanent jobs. Much work is on a contract that may or may not be renewed.
Temporary work and the short-term gig jobs are more the norm. They are helpful to those who can get them, but you can’t get long-term financial stability from them.
One and two-income as well as three-income families are struggling. A woman I know told me that with what she earns her family would be homeless if she didn’t own their house. She earns about $20 an hour in the field of health care.
Many disabled are shut out of employment. According to David Onley in an interview with Steve Paikin on TVO in 2015, the rate of unemployment among the disabled is twice the rate of unemployed during the Great Depression. That was 24%. About half of those who are disabled in Canada are without work. 2
Wages aren’t keeping pace with the cost of living.
Karen heard recently on CBC radio Canada that economists are disturbed that the number of those employed is increasing. They want negative job growth. They say a rising employment rate fuels inflation.
Think about that for a moment. It’s a bad thing that more people are finding work? For someone who hasn’t worked in over a year, economic theory feels impractical. That individual needs a job to support their family.
There are the health issues we face.
While other variants of CoVid are declining, another one has health officials concerned.
“The World Health Organization has called the Omicron variant known as ‘Kraken,’ or XBB.1.5, the most transmissible subvariant yet.”3
There are the issues of homelessness and the health of First Nations people being affected by overcrowded housing
“It is estimated that 150 million people are homeless worldwide. Habitat for Humanity estimated in 2016 that 1.6 billion people around the world live in “inadequate shelter”.
Different countries often use different definitions of homelessness. It can be defined by living in a shelter, being in a transitional phase of housing and living in a place not fit for human habitation. The numbers may take into account internal displacement from conflict, violence and natural disasters, but may or may not take into account chronic and transitional homelessness, making direct comparisons of numbers complicated.”.4
In Canada, with all the resources we have, poor living conditions among First Nations people continues to be an issue.
“Over one in five First Nations people in Canada (21.4%, or 224,280 people) lived in crowded housing in 2021, with 12.9% living in housing with a one-bedroom shortfall, 4.8% living in housing with a two-bedroom shortfall and 3.8% living in housing with a shortfall of three or more bedrooms”5
The picture is complicated by the fact that many First Nations people struggle with mental illness and addiction. Imagine what outlook you would have on life if you lived in such crowded conditions.
Many indigenous people in Canada are in homes full of mould. Children as young as three have asthma.
According to Chief Matthew Keewaykapow in the small community of Cat Lake First Nation, about 600 kilometres north of Thunder Bay, there as of 2019 was:
“… profoundly poor conditions of housing” in the area.
“The community states 87 of the 128 homes have been deemed uninhabitable because of excessive mould.”
“We’ve lost elders due to respiratory problems,” he said. “We’ve lost children. They can’t go to school because they have skin diseases.” 6
In its 2022 budget the government of Canada committed 4.3 billion dollars over 7 years to deal with the issue of poor indigenous housing. Indigenous leaders asked for 44 billion dollars. 7 That’s only about 10% of what they say they needed. I hope this decision will be reviewed.
I understand the importance of being fiscally responsible, but how wise is it when you only address 10% of a problem? If only 10% of a life-threatening wound of a patient was operated on, the patient will bleed out and die from the 90% of the injury that wasn’t repaired.
Something is seriously wrong when indigenous people feel the necessity of turning CoVid 19 tents into shacks. Charlie Angus MP for Timmins -James Bay says if we don’t so something about this crisis, “…we have failed them as a nation.”8
We have many issues in our society. The solutions seem so few. But I do believe we can work on them together by asking good questions. We can get advice from those who experience these issues every day.
Let us come back to these words from Once in Royal David’s City:
““…Tears and smiles like us He knew;
And He feeleth for our sadness,
And He shareth in our gladness.”
Christ felt both sadness and joy. He knew what it was like to experience disappointment. His followers fell asleep when He was praying in the garden at Gethsemane, as He neared the time of His death on the cross for our sins (Matthew 26:40-46). He would have been elated when one soul was saved, because that was His mission. It was Christ’s purpose for coming into the world. His Father’s desire was to have everyone receive the eternal gift of life in Heaven.. God didn’t want us to face eternal punishment for our sins. He was willing to sacrifice His one and only Son for all of humanity to be rescued from their sinfulness (John 3:16-17).
Whether you believe in that or not, what anyone can appreciate is a father’s sacrificial love for their children. Loving fathers are willing to give up so much of their time to show their love for them. Mothers do the same. My mother said she stayed up with us so many late nights when we were infants. She gave up on the sleep she could have had if she hadn’t had any children. At age 17, she married my father.
Mom lost the life she would have had if she had remained single. Many of the opportunities she wanted to pursue never came to be be, because she devoted her time to loving us without holding back. She said to us many times she got more from us being in her life. Mom received joy on humid summer days seeing us jump through and turn the water sprinkler on one another. I smile as I remember that time
Our mother worked 12-hour days as a waitress to provide for us when our father was too sick to work. She walked until her feet bled. I read this can happen as swollen feet puts pressure on nail beds, which result in bleeding from them. I cried as a child when I saw how the dried blood got caught in her stockings. Mom never complained. She did it because she loved us.
Love goes one step more. It gives. It’s one of the ways we show our love for others.
When that love is offered from one’s heart it breathes its life into those it is given. In a world filled with far too much hate, love stands out. It makes its lasting impression on those who receive it.
God’s love for us shines in the darkness around us. It glows for others to see in every circumstance, if we ask God for the spiritual eyes to see it.
Christ is there when life gets overwhelming. Jesus understands that the storms we go through can cause us to feel sad. If we carry that weight alone it can crush us..
How can we have any gladness while dealing with such issues as CoVid and the rising cost of living?
Perhaps, the answer is in answering this question not just with our words, but our actions: What can we do for others today?
I like this thought from Albert Einstein. “If I had an hour to solve a problem I’d spend 55 minutes thinking about the problem and 5 minutes thinking about solutions.”
We will only find those solutions as we listen to one another.
We can take up Christ’s challenge to His disciples.”I am giving you a new commandment, that you love one another; just as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all people will know that you are My disciples: if you have love for one another” (John 13:34-35, NASB). When we truly do that, we can feel the sadness of others. We can help them through their trials. We can share in their gladness when they come through the other side of them.
Critics would argue it isn’t as simple as that. Perhaps, though, we’re making the answers to the problems that confront us too difficult.
If we argued less and agreed more, the pathway to solutions to society’s issues could be a shorter one.
Einstein thought the main obstacle in solving a problem was in not thinking about it enough.
Christ believed that the answer to society’s issues was in having compassion for one another.
Can we do any less for those who cry out for help?
How would we expect others to respond if we were going through difficult times? If Christ didn’t believe we should turn away from others, neither should we.
The jig-saw puzzle of life can be hard to solve. If we work at fitting in the pieces together, it won’t take as long to finish it. If we try to finish this puzzle alone, we eventually may get it done, but we would be more likely lo give up in frustration, and leave the puzzle undone.
We are masterpieces under divine construction. They aren’t finished until God calls us home.
Please do what you can to help advocates. You will lift up their spirit in ways you may never fully grasp.
The path of loving others isn’t easy. It takes a lot of energy, especially with those who resist the compassion you offer them. Karen says to me, “If it was easy everyone would be doing it.”
“Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?’” Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
That question asked of his audience in Montgomery, Alabama in 1957, is as relevant today as it was then.
God be with you as you love others.
2. TVO interview Steve Paikin 2015 of David Onley and David Lepofsky
Dr. Kevin Osborne is the Dean of Psychology and President of Student Affairs for St. James the Elder University. He is s therapist, writer, poet, and singer. He helps people in their inner healing journey. Dr. Kevin Osborne lives in Timmins, Ontario, Canada, with his wife, Karen. She is the Registrar for SJTEU. She is also a counsellor. Karen and Kevin are powned by their 20-year-old cat, Katherine, a.k.a. Her Royal Furriness, Princess Katherine of Timmins.
Share this with friends:
About Dr. Kevin Osborne B.A., B.Th., M.A., M.Div., Psy.D., Th.D. (Cand.)I enjoy spending time with people just having a coffee or talking about life, philosophy, religion, politics or sharing a favorite joke or story. We learn from one another as we interact and share our joys, challenges and even our times of sadness. I enjoy reading, writing, singing and sharing in the blessing of community whether that is one on one or in groups. I'm married and am powned by two kitties named Sir William of Lounge a.k.a. Sir Lounge a Lot and Princess Catherine of Chaos a.k.a. Her Royal Highness Catherine of Englehart. Two years ago I completed my Doctorate in Psychology (Psy.D.) through St. James the Elder University. On Sept. 26th 2020, I graduated with a Master of Divinity degree from Canadian Christian Theological Seminary. These journeys were started over 20 years ago. In 1997 I received a Bachelor of Theology degree from Canada Christian College & Graduate School. Between working and studying it took 13 years to finish it. Let us pray for and reach out to each other with kindness, love and an embracing compassion. We can working together be servants with two open hands to those in need so that hate, indifference and inequality would lose and love will win. The peace and abounding joy of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.
Posted on February 20, 2023, in loving others and tagged Canada, costofliving, indigenous, John F. Kennedy, life, lovingothers, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., social advocacy, society, ukrainewar. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.
Share your thoughts on this post. Cancel reply
This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.
Leave a comment