As Christmas approaches, I tend to think about world affairs in terms of the Christian values I grew up believing.  I look back over the year, and forward to the next year.  I even make some predictions, not of the wheeooooeee type, but based on my analysis of events and conditions in society and in the world.

I read this morning that Ireland has mailed letters to about 6000 unemployed Irish, asking them to move to other EU nations.  This strikes me as wrong on at least two fronts.  The first is that as a Catholic nation, which prohibits birth control, the nation helped create the long term unemployed and owes them better than asking them to leave their home.  The second is that the other EU nations have their own unemployment problems and might not welcome 6000 unemployed immigrants.

The day before I had read that Google (or amazon) was looking to replace clerks with robots.  Prior to this, I have read pieces saying that we will now permanently have a higher rate of unemployment.  I have also read that those  who have been unemployed longer than six months are now considered unemployable.  My Christian values tell me that if society cannot offer people jobs, it should, at a minimum, leave them their dignity, and provide them with life's necessities.  This has made the Christian right's position of blaming the unemployed for their condition, and blaming it on laziness and unwillingness to work, simply unfathomable and immoral.

Love, and charity, Jesus himself, require us to treat the unemployables with respect, and dignity, not scorn and the cloak of invisibility that descends when we assume people "don't want to work."  Honestly, how many of us can say that we would keep looking for a job after we are told by agencies and employers that we have been unemployed too long to be considered?  With dwindling financial reserves, how much would any of us continue to expend on transportation, clothing expenses (even if just cleaning and pressing), printing up and sending out resumes?   Who do you think an employer would hire -- a 32 year old with children, or someone in their late forties or early fifties with health issues?

Do we just toss people away, like disposable coffee cups and razors?  Do we just say "I'll pray for you?'  When we say it, how often do we actually pray for a solution to the suffering and the stress?  Once? Daily until we hear the person's situation has improved?

Into this walks Pope Francis, who is the first Pope since I became conscious of the existence of a Pope, which was the installation of Pope John XXII, who walks and talks as I imagine Jesus did, or close to it.  What does the Christian Right do?  Attack him as "communist" like "Obama."  I heard someone mention that Pope Francis was not even born in the United States!  Hmm, I'm not Catholic, and I know that NONE of them throughout history were born in the United States.  So how is that a relevant comment?  Is it just a stupid one?
This house has an accumulation of things dating back to before 1957 when my parents bought it.  What's worse is that it has an accumulation of things from 4 generations and 6 households.  My mother's parents' things, my parents' things, my own things from when I lived alone, my brother's things from when he lived alone, and my husband's things from when he lived alone, and what we brought home from my father-in-law's after his death.  To be fair, the last two households don't account for much of the "stuff" around here.  More stuff seems to keep coming in. Not sure how with our reduced financial circumstances.

As long as my mother was alive, it was her house.  She had this vision of  the house as she and my father intended it.  Changing anything, getting rid of anything, was harder than getting  Sarah Palin to go away. My brother has now moved out, into his bride's house, which is about the size of a postage stamp.  They're building an addition, but ti's slow going.  Mostly because her own mother has moved here from Oklahoma, and my sister-in-law's time has been occupied by that instead of meeting with the architect, contractor, etc.  So most of his "stuff" is still here.

 If I look at the whole, it's overwhelming.  So I have adopted a "five minute burst" philosophy.  I spend five minutes doing what I can.  On good days, those bursts come close together.  On bad days, I might have as many as two bursts.  On the worst days, I have none.  I focus on the progress, not what remains to be done.  I realize most outsiders would walk into this house and see what has not been done. To the judgmental of those observers, I'd say "Spend five minutes HELPING rather than criticizing."  

The point of this little blog is this:  Is there an elderly, disabled, or both person in your life?  In your neighborhood?  Give them 5 minutes of help once a week. What a blessing it would be to me if just a handful of people gave me 5 minutes of help once a week.  A dozen people giving me 5 minutes a week is an hour of help.  It takes very little time to make a big impact in someone's life.  Look around.  Someone needs 5 minutes of your time.