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Pie Fight

“There, but for the grace of God, go I." ~ John Bradford

I’m really now just starting to understand the meaning of John Bradford’s quote. For a long time I dismissed it as not relevant to my life since I had no real religious beliefs and I got hung up on the God part until I realized that the phrase could just as well read: There, but for circumstances, go I.

Then it all kind of clicked. The meaning, to me, is a call to expanded empathy; an understanding of life and its vagaries. A prayer, offered quickly, to the gods of circumstance and uncertainty to pass you by. A gentle reminder to me that kindness and compassion are actions, not words. That there are so many that are less fortunate and in more desperate straits than me. A hope that should I ever need to depend on the safety net that I won’t be subjected to scorn and ridicule and have my integrity questioned by welfare vigilantes. That I’ll be able to retain that most mundane of parental responsibility: what to feed my children.

There, but for the grace of God, go I.

It's a shame that so many people are willing to see those in need as criminals; scum that are just waiting to take advantage of hardworking decent folks. Living large on lobster and driving Cadillac’s to their crack parties. Like the poor and underemployed are wayward children who need to be chastised and embarrassed by everyone they encounter for their own good since “that’s my money they’re using!”

Taxes are necessary. They are not evil. They are the price of admission to civilization. They do many things. They pave roads, they build and staff schools, they plow streets, they keep order, and they fund wars. They also provide a safety net should any member of our society – for whatever reason – stumble. They are there to provide some relief. That’s what taxes do.

We, as a society, pay them. The government administers them. We reap the benefit of schools and roads and police and firemen and a safety net. More gets done with the pooled resources than we could achieve alone. We have a voice in how they are administrated. We invoke that voice at every election. That is how we are heard. We do not, individually, get to walk up to those who utilize these services and berate them and scold them.

Because if that’s how we’re going to do things now I have a whole lot of stuff I don’t want my taxes purchasing.

I'm shocked and saddened to see how much support the baker from the Braintree Farmer’s Market is getting. Honestly, I'm sad for our future when this type of public shaming is not only encouraged but applauded. I'm not even going to argue the merits of whether pie is a necessity or a treat. This is bigger than pie; this is about dignity and who is allowed to have it. It’s about compassion and kindness. It's about a hand-up, that we - as a society - offer to those less fortunate. It's about reaching down, with a smile, and saying "Here, let me help you."

All while thinking, "There, but for the grace of God, go I."

My intent while writing this was to highlight the fact that the majority of those who require assistance are not "gaming the system" that they are, in fact, our neighbors and friends and deserve basic human kindness.

Barbara Mulvey-Welsh August 22, 2012 at 10:37 PM
I'm upset, not quite apoplectic, about the lack of civility and compassion in public discourse especially when you throw in the anonymous factor of the internet. I purposely left out the "larger agenda" since it wasn't the main focus of what was on my mind. As always I enjoy your comments and appreciate your courtesy.
Cynthia Rosenfeld August 22, 2012 at 11:28 PM
What if the pie were for her child's birthday, or some other small family celebration. If you have fallen on hard times, are you automatically robbed of the right to a small bit of brightness or change of pace in your life? How many times have we gone out to dinner to celebrate something small like a good grade to something larger like a birthday or promotion. Celebration is part of life. I agree with Barbara. Another great quote to apply to this may be "Don't judge another until you have walked a mile in their shoes."
Teresa Hasu August 22, 2012 at 11:44 PM
As always Barb, you shed light on a subject or topic that pushes past the haze and reveals the humanity that we should all strive for. We are fortunate that you have this wisdom and common sense to share with us.
maria castelli August 23, 2012 at 01:17 AM
keep em comming
Kathleen DeWitt August 30, 2012 at 05:19 PM
I have to agree on this one with Barbara and Cynthia. Yes the system needs to be fixed, but let's not shame ANYONE in this case. Like someone before me said. "Don't judge me until you walk in my shoes. Thanks, Nanakate

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