Helping From the Top Down and the Bottom Up (Lift the Spirit, Regardless)
It is not the question of whether to help, but the when and how of the matter. This is the time-tested wisdom of true maturity. If a man or woman found themselves with sufficient measure of true gratitude, naturally a surplus would be used to give to those less fortunate in some capacity. One can only hope this giving would eventually be gifted not out of guilt, and not even responsibility, but understanding. This understanding is compassion.
The great secret of giving known by those fortunate few, is that the resources committed to giving are not lost to some infinite void in space. They live on in the lives and experiences of those we help. That which is given is transformed and returned many times over to the giver. This has to be seen for one’s self. It could not be believed otherwise.
Problems are never one-dimensional. More often than not, they require multiple approaches from different sides of the spectrum to be successful. Before I was ready to give, I knew I wanted to change things for the better. I just didn’t know how, and I was still too selfish. I also thought that I couldn’t help people when I still had so many defects of character myself (POPPYCOCK). I would talk with friends and we all seemed to agree that there were two distinct approaches to helping society most often used. Influencing or becoming one of those with resources would be considered a top-down approach, where as educating or providing those without resources with the neccessary essentials for growth would be a bottom-up approach. Somewhere between these two, there is a delicate balance waiting to be struck between the two for a progressive, lasting prosperity.
This ideal Utopian society where everybody believes in the greater good is simply impossible….and that’s okay. The fact is that the balance between the haves and the have-nots is a see-saw, and I’m not being defeatist; I’m being understanding of the truth. The majority of those in power will always fight to maintain that power until a revolution swings the balance or the system crashes. The majority of those not in power will too often be caught up in means of survival to care otherwise. That doesn’t mean that you and I can’t change things for the better in the here and now, so let us continue. Because one change made in one day makes a difference. And the next day requires a new change made. SO, let us continue.
Historically, those few with the majority of the wealth have had the ability to affect a major change through political or monetary influence when so inclined. More times than not, it appears that they choose not to do so, perhaps in natural hopes of self-preservation(of their wealth and status and that of their future generations). For those of generational wealth, they often lack the perspective of what it’s like to be without resources. Honestly, how can you blame someone for not understanding a life never lived? More often than not, the top 10% of wealth are the breeding ground for the entirety of top decision makers in the U.S. and this doesn’t look to change. Regardless of where you’re socio-economically from, if you’re capable of helping this group to understand the plight of the down-trodden, then you’re in a position to affect a change. If you have the resources yourself, then you can simply dole them out as you wish to hopefully bring about the change you envision. The thing that we must always keep in mind is that this isn’t a case of simply taking from the rich and giving to the poor, a la Robin Hood. The gift of awareness is unlimited in application. We are all part of a bigger picture, and every step we take towards the true understanding of this is a true elevation of the spirit. When you foster the development of a shared connection with the world, everyone benefits.
For those without resources, it is never simply about lacking money, but also many facets of education and perspective as well. Hunger and thirst are poor motivators for understanding. Going without tends to manifest itself as a desire for survival and too often a game of survival of the fittest. In a predatorial environment, there is little surplus for growth. Outside of a predatorial environment, there is little understanding from those without first-hand experience. The truth is that in these environments there are still many types of personalities, caught in both healthy and unhealthy activities. What there is not a lot of is opportunity, and with fewer choices comes quite a few deficiencies: self-confidence, support, and vision. Perhaps the biggest misconception is the idea that you need millions of dollars or decades of time to make a difference. In this group, just as in the first, the isolationist mentality must be ended. When those without resources can be taught the essentials of nutrition, basic education, and money management: the realm of possibility begins to open. Hope springs for future generations, and sometimes for current ones as well. No, we cannot “save” everyone, but if you’ve seen the fire of understanding burn for the first time in someone’s eyes, then you’ll never forget it. You’ll have seen the spirit take flight.
This isn’t meant to be some magical answer for the ages. It’s meant to be a spark for thought. No question in life has one answer, but instead has a complex web of understanding and perspective tied to being a harmonius part of the answer. We each will play a role in whether those around us are doing better or worse for our presence in their lives. The decision of what that role will be and who those in our presence will be is up to us. For better or worse, if my meanderings have helped one more person to stand up and be counted as an agent of progress, than I will consider it a win of the highest order. When we stop worrying about seeing some societal “this or that” and start seeing the person in front of us,…..and get them to see us too…..then we’ll be on to something.