Blessed are the poor. March 25, 2010Posted by ourfriendben in gardening, wit and wisdom.
Tags: derision of the poor, garden blogging, poverty, The Law of Attraction
Our friend Ben has been belatedly and somewhat bemusedly following a dust-up in the garden blogging community. From what I can gather, it began when a blogger wrote a post saying, in effect, that if you couldn’t afford the services of a landscape architect to design and install your vegetable garden and a professional gardener to maintain it, you shouldn’t bother gardening at all, because your garden was going to be ugly. Rather than offending the sensibilities of those who could afford said services, you should find some other, quote, “hobby,” preferably one that could be done indoors where others wouldn’t be offended by your shabbiness and presumed lapse of taste. Needless to say, a veritable firestorm of protest erupted in the gardening blogosphere.
Our friend Ben didn’t find this at all distressing. Though I somehow missed the original post, having read a number of follow-up posts and comments, I think on the whole that the entire episode was a very healthy thing. I say that because it caused a lot of gardeners to think deeply about the reasons why they garden. And, thank God, most of them—at least the ones I read—concluded that they gardened for themselves, because they loved gardening, and that ultimately, whatever it looked like, they really loved their own garden. I didn’t see one person saying that their goal in gardening was to cause car crashes in front of their house because the drivers were frantically taking photos with their cell phones while texting their gardener to “Get this pergola and this fountain and install a border that looks exactly like this by the time I get home!”
There was, however, something I found terribly distressing about the whole incident. And that was the number of bloggers and commenters who felt obligated to apologize for being poor. This made me depressed and sad. Apologize to the well-to-do for failing to achieve their level of opulence?! Mercy. What could have brought about such a state of affairs? Our friend Ben thinks I have the answer, and it lies with the extreme camps in our politically and culturally divisive times. Let’s take a look at them.
Residing comfortably in Camp #1 are the self-righteous wealthy, typified by folks who profess to justify their affluence through their religion. These types claim that the reason they have so much money is that God has smiled on them personally for their great virtue, and that people who are poor are poor because they’re being punished by God for some undisclosed sin. This attitude not only spares these people from having to actually do anything to alleviate the suffering of the less fortunate, it even prevents them from having to feel sorry for the poor, since after all, their problems are their fault.
Such appalling hypocrisy is not just despicable, it’s unChristian. It was Christ Himself who said “Render unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s, and unto God that which is God’s.” A clearer distinction could hardly be made. Jesus also instructed His disciples that, if they had two cloaks, they should give one to him who had none. He most pointedly did not say “If you have two cloaks, you’d better grab the cloaks off everyone you meet and stockpile them, since hey, you can never have too many cloaks, and besides, if that guy deserved to have a cloak, you wouldn’t have been able to take it.”
Now, let’s stroll over to Camp #2. This one is occupied by folks who preach the gospel of the “Law of Attraction,” exemplified by—though by no means exclusive to—The Secret. The Law of Attraction boils down to this: If you want it badly enough, you’ll get it. Basically, all you have to do is close your eyes, click the heels of your battered sandals together three times, and chant “I want money. Lots of money!” and gold will rain down from the skies.
If it doesn’t? Bad karma, dude. You just didn’t want it badly enough. Your job’s been outsourced after 25 years? Yo, you never really wanted that job. Your factory, bank branch, pharmacy has closed, dumping you and hundreds of others in the street? You just didn’t want that paycheck badly enough. It’s, once again, your fault.
Our friend Ben can think of lots of reasons why people should apologize, such as bad behavior, whether it’s greed and conspicuous overconsumption or shamelessly taking advantage of people’s hopes and fears. But the simple fact of being poor isn’t one of them. Hold your head up and wear those battered sandals with pride. You’ll be following in footsteps that are much larger than your own.