Monday, February 13, 2012

Making Choices for Happiness

I hate thieves.

Well, I don't like murderers or abusers much, either. But at the moment my attention is on thieves. I hate them.

Everyone knows copper has become really valuable. In my area, churches, schools, cell phone towers, you name it, have had copper wiring thefts. Today, though, thieves took the copper wiring to the kitchen facilities for Meals on Wheels. Workers came in to fix the meals for today's elderly, sick, impoverished or all of the above, and they couldn't cook. All the copper wiring was gone. Fourth time it's been stolen, despite ramping up security every time.

That is just....reptilian.

True. It will be repaired. The people who aren't getting their one hot meal today may have something in the pantry to eat for a few days. Maybe not. It just infuriates me.

Makes me think of the old story about the two rooms. One was heaven, one was hell. In both rooms, there was a big pot of stew. Each person had a long spoon, too long to feed themselves. In the heaven room, folks had figured out they could feed each other. All were well-fed. In the hell room, the folks kept trying to feed themselves with no luck. It never occurred to them to feed anyone else. They were in hell because they had plenty to eat, and they were so selfish, they couldn't get the food because they wouldn't share.

It's a pretty judgemental story, but I like it. There are reasons for kindness. It comes back on us in unexpected ways, I believe. So does selfishness. I get it that people are out of work and desperate for self-support. Boy, do I. I have actually admired some of the scams I have run across. What gets me is that so many of the crime victims seem to be people who tried to give someone down on their luck a hand and got that hand bitten rather badly.

What I can't figure is whether things are worse, with more, too many more, humans and too few resources to go around. That's part of it. I think the other is that as I age, I see the grift, the graft, the meanness and the ugliness, more clearly. At the same time, I am so much more aware of how many people are genuinely trying to make a positive difference, from smaller carbon footprints to gathering coats for school kids in the fall. Making sandwiches for families on the school lunch program in the summers. Rescuing dogs, cats, wild birds, rabbits, mustangs--you name it, someone cares enough to try to save it.

I feel confident that if kitchen repairs for Meals on Wheels take very long, volunteers will step in. It doesn't reduce the vicious indifference of the thieves.

Today is a gloomy day, in the 30s. It snowed last night and wasn't expected to stick, but I see the last melting off the iris in the back yard at noon. More water. Yea.

My youngest granndaughter wants to make supper tomorrow night for her family for Valentine's Day. I am overseeing as she preps and cooks from a wonderful cookbook by Mollie Katzen her mother gave her. It leans heavily toward vegetarian fare, which is fine with all of us. Today we--oops-she will prep beef and vegetables. Tomorrow after school she will put the pot on to simmer after school. Suppertime is after 7 p.m. and it should be ready. Meantime, she'll make this eggless, milkless chocolate cake that looks quite good. We're buying the rolls, thank you. A salad, I think, of chopped romaine, slivered nuts, shredded parmesan and Italian dressing.

All quite simple. All straight from the heart. MMM. Tomorrow night will be cold again. Hot homemade vegetable soup sounds really good. I warned her the recipe calls for mushrooms. She will be 10 soon and is growing more tolerant.

"As long as it is for my mama and daddy and they like them, it will be all right," she said assertively.

I don't expect to see any thieves--no copper around here, nor much else of monetary value.

Lots to treasure, though.


clairz said...

I have been doing some reading about the Navajos and their ideas about the restoration of balance in the individual, the community, and the universe. Here is a quote from an online article--sorry it is so long, but I wanted to give the general idea (the rest of the article is at

In a bold experiment, which is actually a return to traditional ways, the Navajo Nation Council has changed their criminal code to eliminate jail time and fines for 79 offences. It is now requiring the use of peacemakers in all criminal cases to insure justice, right relations, and to protect the rights of victims.

The new code is based on the traditional Navajo concept of "nalyeeh," a word that refers to the process of confronting those who have hurt others with a demand that they talk things out. This is where the peacemaker comes in.

The Navajo peacemaking session brings the accused and the victim face to face, along with those family members who wish to be present. The session is moderated by an official peacemaker, who is generally a respected community leader. Each party is given an opportunity to talk about what happened and how they feel about it.

Whereas the "Western" penal system, which grew out of Christianity, is based on the concept of the punishment of evil, the Navajo system is based on the idea of the restoration of balance in the community. When a crime is committed, the balance of the community, the individuals involved, and the Universe, is disturbed and must be reestablished.

It's too bad that the copper stealers couldn't sit down face to face with those they harmed.

charlotte g said...

I wrote an answer to you that apparently didn't print. Never mind. I've thought about this.

We do have confrontational meetings and mediation for a number of offenses, varying probably from county to county in some places.

In the case I mentioned, it turns out the thieves have come three times before. Each time security has been tightened. Each time the crooks have outsmarted it. The punishment, if it could be proved and jail time were even an option, would be minimal. You are right. It would continue to be adversarial. It already is.

You are right. The two cultures are different. Navahos know themselves to be part of a specific and valued community. Most have some sense of what it means to be Navaho, some pride or spirit that can be appealed to. At least from what I read.

For so many, not so much. I see so many difficulties to this in criminal work my eyes cross.
I HAVE seen it work well and have even participated in civic mediation and reduction of pain and violence within families. That isn't small.

I hate the crime and I hate how it begins--disregarding others, not respecting them as persons to be valued. Each of us is of value. Each of us is human. Each of us is worth respectful, human treatment.
I believe that to my bones. I also believe to my bones in protecting the innocent from the predator.