Flattering Lips

Help, Lord, for no one is faithful anymore;
those who are loyal have vanished from the human race.
Everyone lies to their neighbor;
they flatter with their lips
but harbor deception in their hearts.

May the Lord silence all flattering lips
and every boastful tongue—
those who say,
“By our tongues we will prevail;
our own lips will defend us—who is lord over us?”

“Because the poor are plundered and the needy groan,
I will now arise,” says the Lord.
“I will protect them from those who malign them.”
And the words of the Lord are flawless,
like silver purified in a crucible,
like gold refined seven times.

You, Lord, will keep the needy safe
and will protect us forever from the wicked,
who freely strut about
when what is vile is honored by the human race.

– Psalm 12

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Is Poverty a Choice?

I occasionally encounter the “poverty is a choice” mentality, but I can’t help but notice that those who say this often have never been poor and have no real idea what the details of poverty are like. There’s something a bit odious about a rich person trying to tell a person who has been poor and disadvantaged since birth that their poverty is a “choice.”

That said, I have chosen to remain poor at this time in my life, largely because I dislike the effects that having a lot of money has had on certain lifelong old friends of mine. I’ve watched them pursue money, property, and prestige — and I have not watched them become happy. Some of them are downright miserable.

I also dislike the effects that having had a lot of money has had on me. There have been times in my past when I had more money than I knew what to do with. I can sit here without money and dream about all the nice things I would do with a few thousand dollars, but the actual reality is that whenever I encounter money upwards of $5,000 or so, it has a tendency to vanish very rapidly. This leads to a lot of anxieties as to who my actual friends are on this planet. They sure do show up when I have money – whoever they are. I think I’ll remain poor, thank you.

As a poor person, I do not have to worry about who my real friends are. Nobody ever asks me for money, because I don’t have any. A rich person often wonders if somebody is actually his friend, or if they only want their money. I don’t have that worry. If somebody happens to like me, I know that it’s me they like – not my money.

wiser still though poorAs a poor person, I get to work on my inner spiritual issues around money without fear of spending a whole lot of it in the process. Nobody is advising me to go on an expensive retreat or pay for long-term psychotherapy, because both those options are financially out of the question. I find this refreshing, because an hour’s conversation with a caring friend usually works better than several sessions with a psychotherapist. Not to mention, the friend actually cares about me, whereas there’s a good chance the therapist mostly wants my money.  And of course, the friend probably won’t “charge” me anything more than the price of a cup of coffee.  

As a poor person, I actually enjoy running out of money on around the 10th of each month and challenging myself to live without money for the rest of the month. I have found that this is not at all an impossibility; and I believe that I have become a stronger person as a result of this challenge.

As a poor person, I have been able to sit down and write an entire musical — book, music & lyrics — about Homelessness in America. I wrote it from the heart, because I felt the themes I was putting into musical and dramatic form.  When I was a working composer, I wrote money for commission.  I felt forced to write songs, and the pressure of deadlines drastically reduced the authenticity of my work.   

My point? It has to do with integrity. As a poor person, I have developed integrity, and I am proud of the person I have become. When I had money, I had no integrity. I only had money.

When I say, for example. that I am looking for money to pay for singers, musicians, and studio costs to create a demo recording of a few songs from that musical, I mean what I say.  The money will not go into pocket, because I have trained myself to live on minimal means. This is a much happier choice than the earlier kind of choice I made, at a time when I had no inclination to detach myself from worldly concerns.  When I was well-off, my life was all about worldly stuff — passing stuff.  My life as a poor person is all about spiritual stuff — everlasting stuff. Does that make any sense to anyone?

If it does, I’m glad. At this point, I think it’s a lot more likely that 1,000 poor people will each kick down five bucks apiece for me to package this musical of mine, than it is that five rich people will each kick down a thousand bucks. When I talk to wealthy people about my ideas, I have to filter though all kinds of annoying perceptions that they think I’m some kind of a “con artist” or “scammer” or “hustler” trying to put one over on them somehow. When I talk with poor people about my ideas, they usually say: “Great idea, man! I hope that works out for you!” Which experience would you rather have? I think it’s a no-brainer, quite frankly.

Poverty in America is not, for most people, a choice. It is a condition. I myself have made the choice to remain poor, because I don’t care for the effects that money has had on myself and others. Therefore any money toward this project goes to my assistant Danielle — because I have a problem with money (obviously!) and she does not.

I will now cease these deliberations, lest I be construed for having a hidden agenda. My agenda is not hidden — it’s about as open as they come. Information on my project is on my home page, in case anyone’s interested in pursuing this theme a bit further.

I’m not a person who wants money or fame. Been there, done that, too old for all of that. I’m a person who wants to get an important message across about Classism in America. I placed my message in musical-dramatic form — because that’s where I’m strong.

Money is where I’m weak. So, while poverty may not be a choice in most parts of the world, it is my choice. Any other choice, in my 65 years of life experience, has led to disaster.

Thank you for hearing me out.

Note: this post was first submitted on the site Quora, which I am acknowledging in honor of their terms of service.  

 

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Weep and Howl

Come now, you rich, weep and howl
for the miseries that are coming upon you.
Your riches have rotted
and your garments are moth-eaten.
Your gold and silver have corroded,
and their corrosion will be evidence against you
and will eat your flesh like fire.

You have laid up treasure in the last days.
Behold, the wages of the laborers who mowed your fields,
which you kept back by fraud,
are crying out against you,
and the cries of the harvesters
have reached the ears of the Lord of hosts. 

You have lived on the earth in luxury
and in self-indulgence.
You have fattened your hearts
in a day of slaughter.
You have condemned and murdered the righteous one –
And he does not resist you.

–James 5:1-5

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Neither Rich Nor Poor

O God, I beg two favors from you;
let me have them before I die.
First, help me never to tell a lie.
Second, give me neither poverty nor riches!
Give me just enough to satisfy my needs.
For if I grow rich, I may deny you
and say, “Who is the LORD?”
And if I am too poor,
I may steal
and thus insult Your holy name.

The Prayer of Agur
Proverbs 30:7-9

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Source of Happiness

feed starving artist

WordPress, as we all know, is free.  I paid an annual fee to get the domain name, and another annual fee to remove the ads and gain access to chat support.   The total is $35.99 a year, which I suppose even an impoverished sort such as myself ought to have been able to come up with.

However, I was working when I made that decision.  I am unemployed and considered disabled at the present time.  Long story short, the automatic payment failed.  So I contacted WordPress with these words:

I don’t have any money right now.  I didn’t get a warning on this.  I’m disabled and I don’t get paid again until the beginning of January.  Is there any way I can get an extension?  WordPress is my main source of happiness.

(To say that WordPress is my “main” source of happiness was a bit hyperbolic, but I did want to let them know how much I appreciate this site.) Anyway, this was the very kind reply I got from the Happiness Engineer, who will remain unidentified:

Your plan doesn’t expire until January 16, 2018, so you can definitely wait until the beginning of January to pay for your site. To make a payment manually, you can go here:

https://wordpress.com/me/purchases

If we can help with anything else, please let us know.

Resting assured that I wasn’t going to be thrust into the red or robbed of my wherewithal, I relaxed.   In the meantime, a friend of mine on the East Coast wired me fifty bucks for groceries.  Then suddenly, I received a mysterious receipt for my “payment.”  My response:

Um, I think there has been a mistake?  I told you I could not pay this till January.
You said it was not due till January.  Then all of a sudden I get a “receipt” for a payment.  I check, and it was taken out of my PayPal.

And what can I say?  I was honest with you.  I told you I am poor and disabled.
You told me it was not due till January 15th.  I agreed to pay it at the beginning of the month, when I get my check.  You robbed me of my grocery money.

Please return every penny of that 35.99 that you robbed from me to my account.  My PayPal is andrewpope109@gmail.com.  Thank you.

Their reply:

Looks like the subscription renewed automatically. I apologize about the trouble!  I’ve gone ahead and gave you a full refund, and you should see the money returned to your account in 5-7 days.

To let you pay for this on January 15, 2018, I prepared an invoice for you here:

https://manualpayments.wordpress.com/?u=24d2cbc6a1

If there is anything else I can do for you, let me know!

Note the grammatical licentiousness here:  “I’ve gone ahead and gave you a full refund.”  I thought that was cute.  Anyway, here’s what I had to say next:

To “let” me pay for it on January 15th?  It was not DUE until January 15th!!!

So I hear Automattic is hiring?  Do they take long distance employees?  Or do I have to move back to San Fran and probably land on the streets again?

Thank you for taking care of this.  I’ll send you the medical bill for the heart attack you just gave me.  Enjoy your day.   I suppose I can go another 5-7 days without eating until this clears.
 
Take care and God bless you.  (At least you didn’t get away with it.)  Geeze….
Their reply:
 

Glad to be of help! Have a nice day as well.   If anything else comes up, please let us know!

In conclusion, if anybody mistakenly thinks that this post is a “cry for help” and not a social statement, please refer to the blog post simply entitled Social Statement, and then read The Story on the home page of this web site, in order to find out what Eden in Babylon is all about.
 
Dayight’s burning, peeps.  Let’s get this show on the road. 
 

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