Tuesday, September 25, 2018

One Cent, One Community

by Lumiere (writer), NYC, August 04, 2008


How One Penny Can Remind You of the Power of Community During A Recession

Many years ago, I was once told by a famous psychic that I should not watch the news, he explained that the dark content has a negative effect on my heart chakra and closes it down. So eventually I gave up television altogether to simplify my life and switched to reading newspapers, which appear to be more fear based than ever. I often wonder if it is even possible to get a dose of happy news anywhere on the planet at this point in time.  Just in the last few days; the Washington Post reported on Friday that U.S. federal agents have been given new powers to seize travelers' laptops and other electronic devices at the border and hold them for unspecified periods.  The Village Voice also ran an article about how the New York City Police Department is pushing for legislation to get rid of search warrants altogether so they can enter our homes with or without probable cause. Then the AM New York ran several articles about how the New York City governer, David Paterson announced a city deficit of 2.3 billion due to the recession, which could lead to a financial crisis.  Lastly, was the news highlight of the week about how the Bush administration withdrew the arsenic-in drinking water standard. Now we get to drink water with aresenic  7 levels higher than what is recommended by the EPA.  Nope, no happy news there either and all the negativity can be overwhelming.

So instead of being washed away in despair, I decided to take some time out to meditate in order to get centered, whether it be in a quiet room in my home or a walking meditation in the park. No amount of chaos is going to disturb my inner peace and it is in moments like these that I remain committed to at least thirty minutes of quiet reflection for the sake of my own sanity and peace of mind.

What came up for me while departing the space of silence and solitude, was the memory of a story my grandmother told me years ago. It was a story about a young reporter who went to an indian reservation to interview a medicine man.

When the reporter arrived to the reservation he had expected to see a medicine man living in an elaborate tepee decorated with tribal drawings, but instead there was only an old, dirty mobile home in the middle of the forest.  Hesitantly, the reporter walked toward the mobile home and knocked on the door. As the door opened, he was greeted warmly by an elderly man dressed in blue jeans and a t-shirt- the medicine man.  The reporter was a bit shocked at his appearence as he had also expected to see a medicine man dressed in traditonal tribal wear- kind of like in the cowboy and indian movies he watched as a child.  "Not what you expected," smiled the medicine man as though he had read the young reporters mind.  "No, no sir. I thought things would be um... different. You and your people are obviously quiet poor," said the reporter. 

Suddenly they were interupted by the sound of a creaking door, and there in the doorway stood a couple with a paper bag in one hand and a pile of clothes with a pair of tennis shoes in the other. "We are sorry to bother you but we just wanted to drop these things off to you for your help with healing our son."  The medicine man stood up, walked over to hug each of them and thanked them for their gifts- then the couple left as quickly as they came.  Still smiling, he opened up the brown bag as it released the delicious fragrance of hot food. Peeking inside like a curious child, the medicine man exclaimed, "Aww. Pot roast. My favorite!"  By his level of excitement you would have thought he was just given the keys to a brand new Mercedes Benz but it was just a simple plate of food.  He rolled the top of the bag back up, closed it and lifted his eyes up at me.

"Young man, I am not poor... it is your generation who is poor. I have community. Your generation has nothing but an obsession with material things that decay in time without any respect for life on this planet. Tell me, what good is all the money and posessions in the world if you cannot drink clean water, breathe clean air, eat non-toxic foods and pass on to your children the -living- beauty of the animal kindom instead of giving them a future where they can only read about their favorite, extinct species in a book? 

Society measures wealth and success by a broken barometer. When government and corporations hoard millions of dollars in resources to produce the best, fastest, product at the expense of impoverishing or killing millions of people by polluting our planet- it is not wealth for anyone, it is foolishness. The spirit of gaia or earth as you call it, is not our garbage dump, she is our home.  Just as it takes a village to raise a child, it takes a community of people to look after a home; to care for her well being, to keep her healthy and ensure her safety. It takes a community of people to agree that the earth must be preserved and protected at all costs.

Community strength, working as a team is a part of what has enabled my people to survive for thousands of generations. Out of community comes Respect for all living creatures that enables us to be conscious of how we utilize our resources and how using those resources effects the larger community as a whole.  But within our community exists a sincere concern for the well being of one another that enables us to share our abundance. Poverty cannot exist where there is sharing. You witnessed a couple sharing their blessings with me in exchange for me sharing my blessings with them- sharing is what helps us to sustain ourselves during hard times and cold winters.

When a community fails to understand the roots of poverty and abundance are interconnected we all become enslaved to greed. A select few may win in the short term but it is the global community which loses in the long term. My people live by an ancient truth, we survive as a community; together in times of peace, together during war or we die fighting together as a community for change....this is what your generation needs to learn."

The medicine man reached into his pocket and tossed the reporter a copper penny, "Look at the words inscribed on the coin."   The reporter caught it, rubbed the dirty coin on his pants and there the words revealed themselves, "e pluribus unum.

The reporter, bewildered by the inscription asked, "What does it mean?"

The medicine man laughed, "Out of many, one."

About the Writer

Native Texan full of Southern Charm, ;) Art Director and Fashion Photographer with a background in Luxury Apparel. Producer of a Television show called " Art4Charity " that spotlights Philanthropists, non-profits, volunteers, and companies doing positive deeds around the world. Volunteer Art Therapy teacher to homeless children and activist.
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