by unbridled artist network
Friday, Oct. 03, 2003 at 10:01 PM
Champaign, IL--a guy who has not been able to get foodstamps for several days now, got "lucky" and bypassed worry when he went into a flow of quite apparently rare excellence with quite a few people on the street.
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Despite days of set-backs due to a "change in the system" for people getting foodstamps, one young man, who is out of money and awaiting a paycheck (and wishes to remain anonymous for fear of more bureaucratic "problems"), found a way to THRIVE, and eat pretty great at the same time.
"At first I was almost falling back into my 'paranoia' that this social service agency is giving me the run-around because I've been active in what 'Normal' people would knee-jerkedly call 'radical politics'. It would make sense that institutions like the Foodstamp Program, despite claims of not discriminating against anyone even for their political beliefs, would begin excluding some 'nonconformers' with the advent of the so-called 'Patriot Act', you know."
But our friend was told by one of the more interesting characters working at Champaign Human Services that "many people are having problems right now due to a change in the system of doing foodstamps." Even though 3/4 of the people who were seeking them, were apparently having no problems.
"It'd be real nice if I could get the foodstamps, of course, since I clearly fall within the guidelines to get them, you know." If you're making under $750 a month, you can apparently qualify for foodstamps (which in Illinois, is a card, not actual stamps; working kinda like a debit card at grocery check-outs).
Even if the State, for some reason or another doesn't decide to let our friend have this priviledge, our friend knew he'd find a way to get by. He was just being himself when some stuff started to happen that turned out A-OK.
"I'd gone by the places you can get food in Champaign if you're down on your luck and such, but the time wasn't right, and one place, the previous day, I'd asked for food and didn't want to keep asking them at times that they weren't officially serving, you know. Don't want to take energy awaya from those over-worked people!
"So, I went to a place I'd found a few loaves of bread at in the past, and found a 'goldmine' of food, a bunch of cans of soda, and even a box full of REAL FLOWERS! And I had this wild thought where I wondered if maybe Jesus had found food in the trash and had brought it to people, and then I just got the wild idea to start passing out some of the food and the best of the flowers to anyone I felt like giving them to! It was really a lot of fun!"
It was not only an act that had a way of 'messing with' what people expected, but also something more controversial, especially in Leftist circles.
"It was part of the spiritual path that I'm finding myself loving to do. Like, I've been thinking a lot about this, and one of the ones that keeps coming up is that maybe I'm here to help lay a foundation for helping to bring back this christ figure that people are always talking about, you know? I mean, why would any christ figure come back to this world that is just going to find a way to 'crucify' him or her as soon as they can, you know!"
Yes, especially the way all the kids, whom our friend calls 'would-be christs', are 'treated' by our System. That is, for so-called 'mental illnesses' like ADHD and even a strange semi-new one called "Oppositional Defiant Disorder" kids are being targeted for especially sneaky manipulations.
Like any adult, kids respond to things which attack them. Except that, unlike adults, kids don't usually have much knowledge about WHY they react like any adult would react when their toes are getting stepped on in insulting or thoughtless ways. "They aren't yet articulate like many adults, you know," says our friend.
But we digress.
The trick in this method of public care is that one doesn't preach, one practices. One doesn't talk about beliefs, one gives a demonstration by their actions. And in this way, one's message can be heard, and in turn much more broadly inspiring than what people have been bombarded by over and over again, until they come to EXPECT some kind of ulterior motive.
Whether that ulterior motive is Leftist, Rightist, religionist, capitalist, or whatever, we see people being kind of poisoned by that manipulation, and we see the value of escaping those restraints, and going towards ways of doing things which can much more broadly impact a broad diversity of people!
Our friend continues:
"I think people have come to EXPECT you to want to sell them something or have something manipulative up your sleeve. It's hard to know for sure, but one thing I do know is that people got a 'kick' out of getting these boquets of flowers from 'a total stranger'! One lady even wanted another boquet for her mother who was having a birthday the next day."
It's like the hippies used to do--send out excellent "vibes" to people you feel like saying hello to-- people you "happen" to meet on the street. No formalities, no labels, no beliefs that come attached.
"You know, maybe there's a *reason* you're meeting them, and maybe sending them such joy will have a reverberating effect. Who knows where such vibes may reach?"
Besides giving out flowers, our friend knew there'd be no problem giving out free cans of pop!
"I also gave out free cans of rootbeer soda. I had found like about 20 cans that this place had thrown away with a whole bunch of other perfectly good food, you know--food all wrapped-up nicely or in cans, no problems with the stereotypical fears of contamination.
"So I would come up to people and give them all this stuff, and they'd question me, wondering where i got it, and i'd tell them i got it free, and that was the truth!
"The sparkles in people's eyes was really enjoyable. I was thinking, gee, a bunch of people all over the country ought to do something like this--maybe get day-old flowers--and pass them out to their fellow people. Especially going out of our way to give them to people who you wouldn't normally give them to, you know? Like, I gave some boquets of flowers to middle-aged ladies, both Black and White, in cars or walking."
And they were just surprised in a most folk-like way. Folk-like; people reaching out to each other like neighbors and extended families used to do in seemingly bygone days.
Later, our friend met up with some fellow homeless people.
"This couple were walking and they looked like life was not easy for them, and they were a multi-racial couple, and well, I offered them the flowers and some soda, and the man ended up giving me something I was wanting to get at one of the free-food places--a sack lunch! So it was really kewl that this guy had some extra ones and he was responding to what I was doing!"
So, that's the message. Going out of our ways to spread a little joy, even when it's not yet "the season" to do such thing. Even when you yourself don't have things peachy-creamy. That's the time to try to rise out of your shell, your ruts of worry, your ghetto of not having your own needs met--and try walking in ways which bring seemingly rare beauty.
"That's the key, actually," our friend added. "To send care out there precisely at the times when people are not expecting it! And, you know, it's strange; I've found this over and over again: When you dare to escape these ways we're all atomized and try out your intuition about being excellent towards others, beautiful things happen."