Let’s Talk about Crime

“Rape. Murder. It’s just a shot away, it’s just a shot away.” — Mick Jagger

Republican politics is just a more tightly wound ecosystem than anything on the left. There are a couple of things you can expect from Republicans during election season. They will complain about how extreme Democrats are on gun control. They will complain about how much Democrats spend with the added benefit of blaming inflation on them. However, one thing you can count on is the fact that high crime rates are the fault of the Democrats and being soft on crime.

So, let’s talk about crime. First, let’s take a look at national trends in crime. From 1990 to 2020, the crime rate went down and went down considerably. The two biggest dips in crime occurred during Bill Clinton and Barack Obama’s presidencies. Does this mean they were responsible? Who the heck knows really? What we know is that crime remained fairly flat under George W. Bush overall and went up under Donald Trump.

If we focus on Texas we would see that Texas ranks 11th in the nation in terms of being dangerous. Republicans have controlled both chambers in the Texas Legislature, the governor’s chair, and the lieutenant governor’s chair for nearly 20 years now. However, this hasn’t stopped them from blaming the Democrats for crime.

The big target in Texas are undocumented immigrants. Naturally, that might be something we would want to study. Sure enough, undocumented immigrants actually committed less crime than their native counterparts. In fact, it’s not particularly close. However, that just doesn’t feel like it’s true. The fact that red states are more dangerous than blue states doesn’t feel like it’s true. After all, isn’t New York, Portland, and Chicago a war zone? In actuality, when you look at crime rates (and not total crimes) the exact opposite is true.

Are Republicans to blame for crime? I’m not going there. I do think we need to start acknowledging some common sense facts about crime before we lose our collective heads. First, does anyone think real hardened criminals really think about sentencing before committing a crime? I was going to rob that store, but this Republican judge would give me 20 years instead of 10. Does anyone really believe that criminals actually think that way?

So, if harsher penalties don’t deter crime then what can we attribute an increase of crime to? Obviously, the first thing we need to do is acknowledge whether there is an increase in the first place and what that increase means in context with the data over a longer period of time. Is it statistically significant?

However, statistical significance and other high brow terms like that obviously confuses people. Their eyes glaze over. So, let’s set that aside and assume it is happening. Why? There are more Republican judges nationwide and in Texas than Democratic judges. It’s not sentencing. Our police departments have actually expanded during that time as well. Sure, we could double the police force, but I suspect that isn’t it either.

One thing conservatives seem to think is that allowing everyone unfettered access to guns will lower crime. Ask yourself this question: does that make any logical sense? However, I would suggest something else. People commit crimes when they are angry. They commit crimes when they think they need something they don’t have. They commit crimes because they are desperate. That points to the economy more than values, stiffer penalties, and even easy access to guns. Maybe that’s why crime goes down under Democrats. Maybe that’s why we saw a spike at the end of the last presidency. Of course, all of that doesn’t fit into a 30 second or 60 second television commercial. So, just be afraid. Very afraid.

What exactly is evil?

“Evil begins when you treat people as things.” — Terry Pratchett

Every once in awhile you find a good quote that dovetails into everything you planned on talking about. Some might call it serendipity. Others might call it planning. It all just depends on how much credit you want to give to anyone on any given day.

Some people are more fascinated with evil than others. The biggest rage in the office is the series “Dahmer” on Netflix. Everyone has been trying to get me to watch, but I’d be watching solo at home. I don’t necessarily want to see evil or watch it described, but the idea of sociopaths and psychopaths interests me as someone that has a masters in counseling and has dabbled in some abnormal psychology.

I picked up a book at Barnes and Noble a few weeks ago and was finally able to crack it open. Mind you, I haven’t finished it but I found Science of Evil by Simon Baron-Cohen to be a fascinating read so far. The biggest breakthrough was in the terminology itself. He doesn’t use terms like good and evil. Instead he talked about empathy. Some people have a lot of it and some people have a little or zero real empathy.

As someone interested in mental health, this revelation brings a number of questions that I hope he has answers for. For instance, is empathy something innate that some people simply lack or is it something learned from our environment? For instance, he was able to show different parts of the brain and explain what was happening on a physiological level when someone’s empathy was impaired. Can we successfully teach empathy? Can we develop an empathy pill for those that have biological reasons for a lack of empathy?

What strikes me most of all is that terms like “good” and “evil” come with significant value judgments attached. Empathy can be measured. We may not have a perfect measurement, but we can certainly do better than “evil”. One can say that they are doing something for the good of mankind and yet conduct themselves without a shred of human empathy.

Cohen described it like a spotlight. Those that have empathy have two or more spotlights. One is on them and their thoughts and needs. The other spotlight(s) are on others and their thoughts and needs. Those with zero to no empathy have only one spotlight. There are times in all of our lives when we are down to one spotlight. It happens. Something horrible happens or we feel more vulnerable for one reason or another. However, that condition is just temporary. When our lives stabilize or the crisis abates then our empathy returns to normal.

Yet, what we are seeing is an increasing amount of people that are stuck on one spotlight. Again, I wish I knew whether this was learned behavior or somehow organic. What I do know is that this is a more substantial description of potentially dangerous people than simply calling them evil. After all, a person with a single spotlight can seem good as long as their ends seem in line with everyone else’s. When their interests and the interests of others collide then watch out. Until we can get a pill at the local pharmacy we need to make sure we don’t give those folks too much power.

Where’s the Humanity?

“It said, I’m gonna be like him, yeah
You know I’m gonna be like him.” — Harry Chapin

There are any number of moments in politics when our best intentions boomerang around on us. This likely happened to Sean Hannity when he aired a private voice mail from Joe Biden to his son Hunter. Of course, this assumes that Hannity has the emotional intelligence to understand exactly what he’s done.

If you’ve been living in a cave, we can simply say that Hunter Biden has been dealing with a drug problem off and on for most of his adult life. This drug problem has caused him to be in and out of trouble and that trouble has sometimes involved his father. Of course, anyone that has an extended family knows this story all too well. There’s someone in the family that could be called the “black sheep.”

Anyone that is a mother or father spends their days and nights praying this never happens to them. If it does happen to them they pray for the kind of patience, grace, and wisdom to know how much to help, when to show tough love, and when to just accept their child as they are. The message from Joe Biden to his son is posted below.

So, what you have is a loving father who is acknowledging his son’s struggles and trying to get him to see those same struggles. It’s a father that wants his son to get help, but also to make sure his son knows that he loves him no matter what. It’s a father that admits he doesn’t have all the answers. There for the grace of God go us.

There is a passage somewhere in the Bible about living in glass houses. I’m sure that same sentiment is in nearly every holy book. Hannity’s own life could be laid open for the whole world to see and I’m sure there are parts that he wouldn’t be so proud of. In particular, the obsession with Hunter Biden and his criminality is just bizarre. No one is arguing that he skate on any of his so-called crimes. Maybe he has gotten preferential treatment over the years, but I’m sure Hannity doesn’t want us to look too closely at his own situation.

If we are looking for direct parallels we could look at TFG’s own children. It is pretty clear to everyone that is paying attention that his oldest son has some sort of problem. I’m not here to speculate because it is not place and it directly flies in the face of the point I’m making. However, if we can see the problem couldn’t his family as well? Have they offered him the same love that Biden offered his only surviving son? We can’t know for sure, but something tells me they haven’t.

Either way, our disparate humanity demands compassion. It demands genuine empathy for those around us. We hope and pray that we never have to go through what Joe Biden has gone through. We do everything in our power to prevent it. Sometimes we succeed and sometimes we fail in spite of our greatest efforts. We can’t shield our children of every evil the world can throw at them. We are truly horrible people if we revel in someone else’s struggles.

Know Nothing

“He’s as blind as he can be
Just sees what he wants to see
Nowhere man, can you see me at all.” — John Lennon

Two of my favorite songs on my playlist are “Vegetable Man” and “Scream Thy Last Scream” by Pink Floyd. They were not officially released until the last decade because the band didn’t want to make them available for public consumption. They represented a time in Syd Barrett’s life when he was in a really bad way. Roger Waters said that they were akin to showing naked pictures of an aging actress.

They felt somewhat exploitive to them, but they are beautiful songs when you know the backstory. In a similar way, saying anything about the rise and fall of Hershel Walker feels wrong in many instances. You have someone that is very clearly not all there. You can’t know whether a former athlete has CTE until you do the final autopsy, but we are about as sure about this as we can of anyone that played in the NFL.

However, Walker represents something bigger than himself. Everything old is new again in politics. Those that know U.S. history remember learning about the Know Nothing Party. The similarities don’t just end with the name. The platform is also pretty similar when we consider the brand of conservative politicians coming out these days. Give those pre-Civil War guys Twitter and 24 hour news and I imagine they would have come up with something eerily similar.

Wjat can we say about Walker? He said he graduated with honors from the University of Georgia. He didn’t graduate. He said he was in law enforcement. He wasn’t. He fathered multiple children out of wedlock. He didn’t tell us the truth about that. The children we do know about all seem to be coming out against him.

Finally, we get the news that he funded an abortion in 2009. Yet, this is where you get into a pickle if you are a true progressive. We want people to be able to have the choice to have an abortion. So, ultimately do we care whether he funded one? The quick and simple answer is that we don’t, but that isn’t really the point. The point is that you don’t get to run on a sanctimonious platform when you have entire collection of skeletons in the closet.

Watching conservatives fumble around with representatives and candidates that are clearly intellectually deficient is hilarious on one level, scary on another, and just pitiful on the rest. Whether it’s not know that wanton murder doesn’t refer to the soup found in Chinese restaurants or watching Walker be told that the lieutenant governor said something about him, watch him ask who the lieutenant governor was, be told who he was, and then ask what that guy was currently doing.

Commenting about such things is the true no win scenario. No one should make fun of half-wits. It would be akin to making fun of someone with a physical handicap. Yet, here we are and this is the field that the GOP has laid down before us. At some point we need to put the blame on the powers that be that parade these folks out there for us to exploit and laugh at. Laughing feels utterly awful, but at a certain point you just can’t help it.

Whisper to a Scream

“we are rather helpless. Take us forever a whisper to a scream.” — Ian McNabb

The NRA has been stumping for Greg Abbott pretty hard and heavy. I hear their radio spots at least a few times every day. Beto O’Rourke has an F rating according to the NRA. However, Greg Abbott has been governor for eight years. I’m still not sure why we should vote for him. The only thing he tells us is why we shouldn’t vote for Beto O’Rourke.

Terrorism is defined as “the unlawful use of force and violence against persons or property to intimidate or coerce a government, the civilian population, or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives.” I don’t know why that word popped into my head just now. It must be one of those random thoughts that have nothing to do with anything.

That same dictionary defines domestic terrorism as “the committing of terrorist acts in the perpetrator’s own country against their fellow citizens.” The Patriot Act said that people are engaging in domestic terrorism is they perform an act “dangerous to human life.” So, if we follow this random tangent to it’s logical conclusion we would have to assume that people that participate in mass shooting events are domestic terrorists.

Mind you, I’m not calling the NRA a sponsor of domestic terrorism. I’m simply defining terms. The city of San Francisco has already done that. Many Americans already agree with San Francisco. However, lets walk this through. You have an organization that opposes waiting periods, background checks, and any sort of regulation of semi-automatic weapons, age limits, licensing, or carry restrictions. They support an 18 year old’s right to openly carry an AR-15 whether they have passed a background check or not.

So, there is a sizeable gap between supporting any right to own a firearm and where the NRA currently stands. According to Gallup, as of 2020 only 32 percent of Americans owned a firearm and only 44 percent lived in a household with at least one firearm. However, that is in stark contrast to the number of firearms actually in the United States. So, if there are 1.2 firearms per person, but only 32 percent of people own a firearm then that means that the average gun owner has three or more guns.

Whether the NRA are domestic terrorists, support domestic terrorism, or are indifferent to terrorism is for shock jocks to consider. One could credibly claim that the NRA serves a very small segment of society. After all, even most gun owners are in favor of waiting periods, background checks, and restricting access to certain weapons. Most support age restrictions as well. So, when one earns an F grade from the NRA what exactly does that mean? I’d say it means he is a decent and reasonable human being.

In the Garden of good and evil

“In a tree by the brook
There’s a songbird who sings
Sometimes all of our thoughts are misgiven.” — Jimmy Page

There are few things in the world that can be known for sure. One of the teachers I work with tried to give examples of conspiracy theories and used the whole idea of the Earth being flat. Suddenly, several students stood up and starting arguing. So, let’s just acknowledge that there will never universal agreement and move on.

I usually don’t put art up here, but a picture paints a 1000 words as they say. Many critics would point out that I can be rather wordy, but we will let this stand for now. Saturday Night Live did a sketch years ago where they made fun of “undecided voters.” It was pretty direct, but maybe not quite as direct as the cartoon above.

The picture was purposefully vague because all of us have elections in our locales and states that are good examples of this. Obviously, this fits a particular narrative and a particular point of view, but the point is true in general. The choices in our races are very clear and to come away undecided is unfathomable.

In Texas, we have the gubernatorial debate between Beto O’Rourke and Greg Abbott. I usually pride myself in being measured and rational. However, there is no rational basis for coming into such a debate undecided. We know who Greg Abbott is at this point and given the fact that O’Rourke ran for president and senator, we should know who he is as well.

Notice I didn’t say that either was definitely right or wrong on any one issue, overall, or that either was good and the other bad. Remember the whole flat earth thing above? People here know who I’m voting for. That was true from the moment that the two challengers were announced. Hell, it was true the moment the last election ended.

That’s my failing. I often joke with friends and loved ones that if the Taliban were to come to Texas and form their own football team that I would have to think for a few minutes on who to root for if they decided to take on the University of Texas. Is that level of dislike rational? I suppose not. I suppose my level of animus for Abbott and Dan Patrick may not be completely rational or healthy.

While I cannot know with 100 percent certainty which party is right most of the time, I can say with absolute certainty that one of them is. They cannot be much more different these days. This doesn’t come down to a minute disagreement over the amount of farm subsidies we should doll out. We aren’t arguing whether the public library should be open until eight or nine. The days of small and seemingly insignificant disagreements are long gone.

In their wake are very definite and significant cracks in the foundation of our democracy. Are we still going to be a republic? Do we believe in personal freedom? What does that even look like in the modern age? That’s on the ballot. I respect people that think differently than me. I don’t have a monopoly on the truth. I have a hard time respecting those that don’t think at all. We better think quickly or we might not be able to anymore.

Commercials Continued

“I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take this anymore.” — Network (1976)

When I write these I am assuming that the majority of people reading them are like-minded individuals. Maybe the occasional person stumbles along and wants to hurl projectiles at their computer, tablet, or phone, but for the most part I’m not playing the role of raving lunatic here. So, allow me to have a polite conversation with the like-minded people that read these posts.

The thought occurred to me when I heard the third version of the Abbott attack ads against Beto O’Rourke. It seems he is too extreme on gun control. They played what was obviously an abrupt cut of him saying he would confiscate everyone’s AR-15. Then, they went on to talk about how he has an F rating according to the NRA in terms of his voting record.

I could say a lot of things here and did when I was in the car by myself. A few of those things are words that shouldn’t be said around young children or anyone of a delicate nature. I could also say a few choice things about the NRA and have before. If I ever run for office they will be data mined and I’ll have to explain them off somehow. That’s kind of the point. This is the world we live in now.

If I translate my inner thoughts in the most delicate way possible, I’d say I couldn’t care less what the NRA thinks of me or my stances on gun control. I’m not looking for NRA approval after all. I’d rather be a good human being and promote policies that support life and public safety. If they would like to abrupt cut that and infer that I am saying they are not for supporting life or public safety they can go ahead. Hell, I’ll even underline and bold it for them.

As much as I or anyone else would like to call them domestic terrorists or people that sponsor domestic terrorists it wouldn’t be responsible for me to do that. After all, most people don’t make complex distinctions between sane and responsible gun owners and those that are insane and unreasonable. They think we would be painting with a pretty broad brush there and I get it.

The point is that when we advocate something we have to consider the feasibility of it getting approved and whether it would actually work. There are any number of ways of taking guns off the streets that don’t involve going door to door and taking it from their cold, dead hands. The unfortunate reality is that if you used the door to door method you would likely invite that outcome more than a few times.

Few things in this world make me more angry than gun violence. When I hear the stories of dead children, scared children, or frightened multitudes in any public place it makes me want to scream at every Republican politician and anyone with an A grade with the NRA. I’d like to say they can take their A grade and thousands in PAC contributions and shove it up their ass. Of course, we can’t do that in a polite society, so that will have to serve as internal monologue for now.

As Democrats, liberals, progressives, leftists, or caring moderates we must agree on one thing and only one thing. We want to make the world a better and safer place. I think all of us can agree on that. We may not agree on how to completely do that or what lengths we need to go to so that can happen. We need to focus on what we do agree on and move from there. In terms of gun control, we agree on background checks, waiting periods, and the ban of certain weapons. We agree that other weapons shouldn’t be legally owned or wielded by teenagers.

We need to enact these laws on things we do agree on and put our heads together on the rest. Confiscation is way too controversial and likely to dangerous to enact. Let’s think of other ways to regulate behavior without punishing responsible gun owners. We are smart people, so we can make this happen. What we can’t do is allow the forces of darkness to cherry pick awful things we may have said to use against us.

Commercial Interruption

“Politician granny with your high ideals
Have you no idea how the majority feels?
So without love and a promise land
We’re fools to the rules of a government plan.” — Roland Orzabal

We take a break from our regularly scheduled programming to take a look at a couple of commercials from the Texas governor’s race between Greg Abbott and Beto O’Rourke. As it stands, I only hear pro-Abbott commercials. I suppose sports fans must all be conservatives. Three things have struck me from these ads.

Beto O’Rourke is for defunding the police.

If there are any dedicated Democrats reading this please read the following sentence carefully. For the love of everything good and holy, please stop doing this. You come up with these slogans you think are winning slogans, but the other side just uses them against you. This has been an ongoing problem for as long as I have been following politics.

People don’t understand nuance. I know you don’t literally want to eliminate police departments. I know you are not literally for anarchy. The average voter doesn’t understand the idea of spreading resources around to other agencies that would be in a better position to handle certain issues. They just see a hoard of criminals coming to your door.

Of course, Abbott has to throw in a reference to Black Lives Matter. Again, they have successfully linked BLM with crime and anarchy. Is it fair? Of course it isn’t. Are most of them lawless thugs? Of course they aren’t. People don’t stick around long enough for a lengthy explanation. So, being for BLM and being for police reform means you are pro-crime and for the forces that are bringing crime to our neighborhoods. It’s a bunch of excrement, but it is all most people hear.

Beto is for Open Borders

Clearly he isn’t. He has said this multiple times. What he is for is streamlining our immigration policy and process so that people can enter the country safely when they need to or be sent back when they need to. He has talked about tearing down the wall because most experts agree the wall is virtually useless. Of course, most people only hear the first half of that particular statement.

So, this argument came down to two statements. First, hoards of drug dealers and mules are bringing over fentanyl. That’s oddly specific. That statement is both true and misleading. China actually produces the most fentanyl, but Mexico is seeing an increase. The one that got me was that the border between Mexico and the United States is the most dangerous border in the world. I almost pulled off the road into a ditch laughing. Apparently the border between Syria and Iraq is a bunch of snow cones and rainbows.

Beto is too dangerous for Texas

So, you see where this is going. As we teach our students, pathos (emotion) is the most effectively logical appeal there is. To hell with facts or credibility. We just want you to believe that Beto O’Rourke would somehow kill thousands because he’s inherently dangerous. What happens if you are dangerously incompetent or reckless? A simple Google search on COVID showed that over 90,000 Texans have died from COVID since March of 2020. Most of those came in the first year when our beloved governor decided to lift protocols and keep local governments from imposing their own.

Everyone remember the great freeze in December of 2021? You know the one where our grid virtually shut down statewide because we were in a hurry to deregulate everything that moves. Yeah, this is the one they still haven’t fixed and came close to having more blackouts this past summer. Yeah, THAT freeze cost 246 Texans their lives.

If you count the period when Greg Abbott was attorney general in Texas, we have had a rash of mass shootings in Texas. Take a look at the timeline. Most happened under his watch as governor. Yet, he and the legislature have hurdled head first into policies that would virtually give anyone unfettered access to any weapon they might want. Yet, we cannot predict or control what might happen at our schools and are just dumbfounded when these things happen. So tell me, isn’t Greg Abbott too dangerous for Texas?

The Prodigal Son

“To be is to do.” — Socrates

As we continue with our theme of converting from grievance to gratitude, I’m reminded of the story of the prodigal son. In general, the parables that Jesus used in the gospels are rich with lessons and jumping off points. This story might be one of the most complex and misinterpreted in the Bible.

For those that aren’t regular church goers, essentially the second son in a rich family demands his portion of his inheritance early. He squanders it and eventually returns home prepared to be a servant. Instead, his father showers him with gifts. The other son is pissed off because he always followed the rules. Why didn’t he ever get these gifts?

It is common to talk about how the world wants us to be. This is usually a way to separate all of us into an us vs. them paradigm. So, anything negative must be of the world and everything positive is of the church. In this case, I think many forces within the church are actually pushing us into behaving like the older son. I’ll start with my own experience within education and hopefully we can expand from there.

The hardest thing to overcome as a teacher is the notion that are ultimate goal is to get students across the finish line. When students do the wrong thing we want them to either be punished or suffer some kind of consequence. We often don’t feel good until something punitive happens. This can be true in literal cases of behavior or simply students that fulfill their academic obligations.

This is admittedly a delicate balance and one I have been working at for 25 years. I’m not sure I’m where I should be and don’t know if I ever will be. A kid doesn’t do their homework or classwork. What should happen to them? A kid is tardy to class. What should happen to them? They aren’t paying attention and they wake up midway through class. Should we call them out for their lack of attention or simply meet them where they are at?

Fast forward a few years or more and they are working minimum wage jobs because they didn’t do what they should have done in school. Do we continue to put up road blocks because they shouldn’t have done that? Do we limit their access to assistance or prevent minimum wage workers from earning more because those jobs should only be for teenagers?

Suddenly you realize our entire outlook is based on being the older son. Our little brother squandered his inheritance. He was foolish and he should be punished. Maybe he or she did. Maybe they did the wrong things when they were young. Maybe they could have paid attention and done their work. Maybe they could have followed the rules and avoided the mistakes we told them not to make.

What’s also possible is that they might have been a victim of circumstances beyond their control. We can’t assume everyone in a bad way is in a bad way because of their own life choices. However, let’s assume they are. Are we really supposed to withhold assistance because of previous mistakes they made? Do we withhold our compassion and care or do we simply meet them where they are and go from there?

The older son exists in a place of grievance. It isn’t fair that people get free stuff. I worked hard. I deserve that stuff. I followed the rules and now you are giving your time and energy to that good for nothing miscreant? They should be punished. You should let them bask in the soup of their own transgressions. Gratitude cannot accept such an outlook because gratitude does not assume we did anything. It assumes we were the recipients of our fortune and not its architect.

From Grievance to Gratitude

“I met a girl who sang the blues
And I asked her for some happy news
But she just smiled and turned away.” — Don McLean

On some days I know exactly what I want to write about and I can sit down and bang out a post in ten minutes or less. As Tony Shaloub’s character said, “it’s a blessing and a curse.” There are other times when there is a complex subject in my head and I need to few posts to flesh these things out. I promise to refund you all the money you’re out.

These ideas are swirling around my head and they need to come out. I am responsible for planning a prayer meeting for our pastoral council and there is only one thing I want to communicate with them. The question is the how. There is so much there and so many different places I’ve seen it. You end up taking a little from each and hope that the combination produces something worth listening to.

The challenge in this space is to carve out a message that can be digested by people of all faith (or no faith) traditions. The message is simple. In order to experience true conversion one has to transfer themselves from a state of grievance to a state of gratitude. It’s a simple enough message, but there is a lot to unpack there, so we should try to do that while I’ve got your attention.

What exactly is a grievance state? Simply put, it is when we get into a head space where we are worried about what we don’t have, can’t have, or what someone gets to have. It doesn’t mean we shouldn’t fight for our rights or to get the needs to any particular group me. It means we need to move beyond the whole idea of “why does group A get this when group B doesn’t get that?” Usually, group A and group B have nothing to do with each other. So, asking such a question only ends up resulting in anger towards group A.

There are forces of darkness out there that don’t want Group B to get what they need. The easiest way to keep from having to give groups what they need is to get us to remain focused on groups that get stuff they “don’t deserve.” See, there’s that nasty word again. So, instead of being upset about needs not being met is to get people to focus on groups that are getting assistance and “shouldn’t be”.

It even sneaks into our theology. How often have we heard the phrase, “God helps people that help themselves.” The phrase is actually not in the Bible. It was originally attributed to Ben Franklin. Yet, it has become our number one reason for not helping those around us. They don’t deserve our help. They ruined their own life. They made bad choices and that is why they are in the state they are in. This may even be true in many instances.

However, a part of that gratitude mindset is the understanding that many of us are where we are because someone was there to help us when we made many of those same mistakes. Someone was there to help us when we didn’t make mistakes, but something horrible happened just the same. There was a shoulder to cry on. There was someone with a couch we could sleep on, someone with a few extra bucks to help us through, or with connections to help us get back on our feet.

When we have a focus on gratitude we are more likely to be that for someone else. We are more likely to take bad news in stride. We are more likely to understand that some people will need more help than others. They may make mistakes and seemingly make the same mistakes over and over again. Maybe they are capable of standing on their two feet on their own. They can still use our help until they do.

In the public arena, we can focus on fighting for people that have yet to have their needs met. We can ignore the voices of darkness that want us to focus on what the undeserving are getting. After all, foaming at the mouth about what one person gets doesn’t get us or anyone else any closer to what we/they need. Plus, a gracious person is a lot happier than a grievous person is.