Share Your Pizza

On Friday night I had to go into Boston for work and then I met my parents for dinner at a pizza place. After dinner I had a little over half a pizza left since I was bad and had a pumpkin spice latte at work (I have an easy job). On the way back to the car we walked right past a homeless guy who was sitting on the sidewalk, and after we got in the car I thought, “Crap! I could have given him the rest of my pizza!” It wouldn’t have been a long walk, and I could have gone back and given it to him, but I didn’t. I felt bad about it the whole way home, and I prayed that God would send someone nicer than me to share their pizza with that guy.

When I was a junior in high school (I’m a junior in college now) I attended a summer program at Berklee College of Music. There were a lot of homeless guys hanging around there, and at the time I was a broke high school student, but I heard a lot of people were buying them water bottles or sandwiches or what have you. I grew up being told that a lot of people were homeless because the probably deserved it; they were probably drug addicts or criminals, so I shouldn’t give them any money. I don’t believe that anyone doesn’t deserve help anymore. Everyone deserves help because no matter who they are or what they’ve done, they are God’s children and my brothers and sisters. Maybe it’s better not to give some of them money, but it can’t hurt anyone to share some pizza.

My point is; don’t pass these people by. Too many people do, including myself, and nothing can change if they don’t get help. They need someone to care about them. We don’t have to single-handedly save the world, but we can lend a hand every now and then. Maybe you will be the nicer person that I prayed for. Please share your pizza next time you pass someone who looks like they need it.

Because in my world guinea pigs can fly!

The Bystander Effect

Yesterday in my philosophy class we talked about the bystander effect. We talked about how a group of people will stand and watch a child drown purely because there are other people there. People seem to have a mentality of “no one else is helping, why should I?” It’s why the genocide of the Jews in Germany was even possible.

It’s also why there are millions of starving children in the wold. We talked about how it seems that a person who is able to help should be morally obligated to from an egalitarian viewpoint. We talked about how people act based on social norms and an innate sense of self preservation and how this does not  seem to correlate with egalitarianism or a common sense of compassion.

It disturbed me a little in class, but we have talked about this kind of thing numerous times before in other classes mainly on a theoretical level. It sunk in however when I read an add in the school bulletin that gets sent out once a day via email. A girl was asking for help with a public speaking project she had coming up and I almost replied, but then I thought, “Well, she probably already has several other people offering to help her and I’m busy.” It is midterms. What if everyone else was “too busy” as well? I most likely have a few hours to spare some time this week. Am I morally obligated to help that girl?

Something else struck me today. I remembered that Jesus said, “The poor will always be with you.” Why? Is it because people aren’t helping? Is it because of economic or social structures, as some would argue? Do they bring poverty upon themselves? Is it forced upon them? What bothers me most is that word always. Is there nothing we can do to stop it? Is poverty an undying force that can’t be stopped?

A question that plenty of people deal with all the time is; why, if God is good does he allow suffering? I don’t have an answer to that. Everyone suffers in one way or another. It’s because we live in an imperfect world. What I really don’t get is why some people suffer WAY more than others. What’s more is that often times, the more people suffer, the stronger their faith is. In fact, many people bring suffering upon themselves to strengthen their spiritual life. The thing about our God is that he suffered for us, and he suffers with us. I know that, but I don’t entirely know what it means. God is with us and he is with us in our suffering, but what does it mean that he suffers too? I think if I could figure that out I would understand a lot of other things as well.

Last semester in my creative nonfiction writing class I read a short piece called “Being Christ to the Traveler.” In short it was about a guy who offers to hold a drunk guy’s flowers while he pees out the door of a train (the guy had evidently just broken up with his girlfriend). We can help anyone by doing little things like that, but it takes so much more to help the poor or the people dying of AIDS over in Africa.

The thing is, I basically don’t have anything saved. If it weren’t for my parents I’d be dead on the street somewhere, but as it stands I live in an awesome house in a nice, safe neighborhood, I go to a super nice college and took guitar lessons for five years. I personally am very poor. I have a part time job, but because of school and music I don’t work much and I make peanuts; actually less than peanuts.

All the money I’ve saved or that I make goes to recording my first album, and that’s where I’m conflicted. My plan/hope is to be able to live off of music and have a little extra to send to charities, etc. What we talked about in my philosophy class was this; is it more morally right to take the money one spends on college/recording/whatever and just give that to charity, or should one wait, go through college/recording/gigging/whatever and ultimately be able to do much more and help many more people? I don’t know.

I guess a good compromise is to help who you can when you can, how you can, but I don’t think it’s quite as satisfying as being able to say you got a kid out of poverty. I guess we’re not supposed to look for satisfaction out of helping people. Again, I’m probably thinking about this too much.

Because in my world guinea pigs can fly!

Contest

Hey everyone! I’ve joined this contest through Guitar Center, and I’d seriously appreciate it if you’d at least check this link out. It would be awesome if y’all would share it with your friends and family, because the more people who check it out, the better the odds of my doing well in the contest are. If I win I’ll get a lot of great prizes including the chance to make a 4 song EP basically for free.

Thanks in advance to those of you who check this out.
http://songwriter.revimage.com/channels/Katie+Curtis+Music

Because in my world guinea pigs can fly!

Unqualified, Unspecified Love

I’m unqualified for a lot of things. I’m not majoring in psychology and I’m not going to be a counselor, but everyone says I’m good at giving advice. I don’t want to diagnose people and tell them what they already know about themselves and hold them at arms length and tell them that our time is up for the day.

I want to be a good friend. I want to be there and sit around with someone all night if I have to. I want to tell people more than what they need to hear. I want to love people no matter what until it’s so annoying that they start to love themselves. I don’t want to go through a whole training program so I can tell people what the professionals say I should tell them. I just want to tell people that they are loved and that life is worth living and give them real, human, opinionated, unqualified advice.

I want to find the people who have gone missing in their own heads and help them find themselves. Someone I know said that you can’t be someone’s friend and help them with their mental health problems. I beg to differ. I think that sometimes, the thing that’s missing in mental health treatments is love. Sure, you can give someone advice on how to change their lives and be more optimistic and give them some drugs and hope it works, but there’s still no real human connection. I believe that human connection and communication is a hugely significant factor to living happy, healthy life.

The thing is, I’m not sure I’m ready to be a shoulder to cry on yet. I feel like there’s something or maybe a lot of things that I still need to know. I’m still naive and admittedly, kind of ignorant about a lot of things. Before I started writing this post, I read a post on a classmate’s blog. She wrote that what she wanted more than a relationship with a significant other was to be a part of a small, very close group of friends. She believes that she doesn’t have that yet because she’s not ready for it yet and she believes that God is preparing her for it. I think that’s probably true for me too. I think God probably is preparing me to be someone’s rock; whether it’s a significant other or a close friend.

No one is unqualified to save the world. No one is perfect and no one ever will be, but everyone is capable of love and if you do whatever it is you do out of love for others, then you are helping to save the world. Follow your dreams because they will make you happy and happiness is meant to be shared. Share your art or music; share your jokes; your stories; share your time; share your money; share your things. Share whatever it is you have to share. You don’t have to give everything away; you just have to share it because it will make someone happy, and if you make someone happy, you will be happy too. Sharing something solidifies a preexisting connection among all the people of the world. It turns the connection into something you can see and touch and even use. It helps to break barriers and create understanding, which will ultimately lead to peace. Maybe I’m an idealist, but I really believe that to be true.

Because in my world guinea pigs can fly!

Free For All

My mom picked me up from the studio on Friday and somehow the conversation went very quickly from music to money– specifically taxes. I’m more liberal than Ken or my mom on a few issues, but when it comes to money I’m very conservative. My mom started talking about how there is basically no incentive to work hard anymore because middle class families are paying absurd amounts of money to the government to pay for handouts to people who don’t work and don’t pay any taxes.

There are several problems with this structure. The first is that fewer people are willing to help each other out of the goodness of their hearts because they are being forced to help by the government. There is much less trust because people assume that everyone on welfare abuses the system when in fact there are people in this country who badly need help for legitimate reasons. The second problem is that people do abuse the system. There are people who are perfectly capable of finding a job and working hard but prefer to collect unemployment and use food stamps. I personally know some of these people and they have nicer stuff than my family does because we hardly go out and we don’t see super expensive stuff as a priority. I’m not saying that having nice things is a bad thing, but you should have to work for them.

Furthermore, high taxes hurt small businesses. Ken told us that after taxes and expenses he hardly makes any money from the studio. He loves his job and he’s very good at it and he has great ideas for expanding the business, but his hands are currently tied. My ultimate goal is to become a touring musician, but if that doesn’t work out I’ll get some kind of writing or editing job. My plan is to get at least popular enough so that the taxes won’t kill me. I just want to be able to live comfortably without worrying about money.

My mom’s grandparents didn’t have to worry a out this stuff when they came over from Italy. They worked incredibly hard and even though they were poor, they didn’t gripe about it. They worked, and eventually they bought five houses on the same street. They had fourteen children and all of those children lived in those five houses unless they decided to leave. Those children all had children and they were still poor, but they all helped each other. Their children grew up happy, educated and successful. No one helped them except their family. If the options are to work or starve, people will work. It sounds harsh, but it seems that some people need to be forced into that position. This still does not mean that individuals and other organizations should not help each other. It is in fact the duty of the Church to take care of the poor.

Now because travel is so easy, families are separated sometimes by entire continents or oceans. It should be families, friends and private charities helping people, not the government. The government should be worrying about international affairs, keeping the peace within our own borders, education and taking care of infrastructure. When they forcibly take people’s hard earned money and give it to people who may not deserve it they make them want to hold onto whatever is left with both hands, creating an “every man for himself” mentality.

Ok…. Rant is over.

Back In Business

I’ve been crazy this week. Last Wednesday I had a bit of a medical issue that put me out for a few days. I was basically back to normal on Friday, but I haven’t really been writing because I was busy this weekend. I wrote for a while today. I did some editing and wrote a new scene. I’ve hit a bit of a weird spot. I know what the next major thing in the novel will be, but I’m not quite sure how to get there. I have a few ideas sort of floating around in my head. I think what I might do is just keep writing and see which one ends up flowing the best.

I’ve been practicing guitar a little more than usual. By “practicing” I mean learning covers. I’ve been musically prolific lately but after I write a particularly good song I tend to get writer’s block for a while. It’s fun learning new covers.

I start classes on Wednesday, so I’m going to get my books tomorrow. Last semester I ended up getting enough money from my research gig to pay for all my books. That was nice. I recently got a decent pile of money from that, so I can probably pay for at least some of them. I have enough money saved up to pay for them anyway, but it would have been nice to get them basically free again. Alas… We don’t live in a perfect world.