Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Many Meetings

Its good to see that we're back to Lord of the Rings chapter titles being titles of blog entries.

I find myself back in Chicago for the first time since late August. There are a few differences though. The wind blows a little bit colder, the once lush trees and grass are now brown and shadowy, and it gets dark around 3:00 in the afternoon, or so it seems. I traveled back here via Brian's chariot, "the boat", as many of you know it. The boat was a bit worrisome on the hills of Kentucky, but it made it gracefully and with much style to spare.The main reason I returned to Illinois was to usher and witness the wedding of my good friends Erin and Kevin. They decided to give me the honor of usher, along with Sean, Erin's cousin, and it was my first attempt at the task. The highlight of the task was when Sean and I had to unroll the huge landing strip of fabric for the wedding party to process up. We had to unroll this white fabric, starting at the front of the aisle and bring it all the way back to the rear of the church. Well, apparently, the white linen did not come more than 6 inches off the ground. So, Sean and I, being the pros that we are, squatted down and did this carefully orchestrated crouched waddle all the way down the aisle. It was widely agreed among those present that this was 'highly amusing'. But, other than our sorry display, the ceremony and reception were beautiful. After being in catering for 4 years, I've seen my fair share of weddings, and this was by far one of the classiest ones I've see.....and I've served a lot of weddings. For example, you don't want your pre -dinner music to be too loud. You don't want a DJ with a silver, sparkled vest. You do want your chicken to be cooked properly. You want to cut the cake BEFORE dinner, so it can be plated in a timely fashion....before dinner people. You do want wine, decent table wine, nothing to fancy, but nothing that comes in a box. You do want some food to be served before the meal itself, people are usually starving after the marriage ceremony. Anyways, just a few observations from a retired caterer.

One of the best parts about coming home is seeing so many people who I only get to see once a year, or less. And, much of this is done in and around Chicago. Things move much...MUCH faster up here. I actually don't think one could notice it unless one is removed from the city...or university town, for a good amount of time. Traveling on 294, and 290, getting in the traffic jams and seeing people fly off the handle at each other, I longed to be back on our small country road, deep in the woods. But on the other hand, if I was back on that country road, I'd have to travel for almost 2 hours to get a Guinness, or hear a little guitar. But, at least I wouldn't have to deal with those crazy blue lights under the highway I-PASS lanes. I'm pretty certain that they do give you cancer...or at least scan your brain. It's just a trade off I suppose.

Being back in Chicago has made me realize one more much outside of the volunteer community you really need money. Money is always a touchy subject. But, as volunteers...we don't make much of it. And, I'm not complaining, mind you, but it's a very difficult situation. We can't exactly go out for a nice dinner with old friends, we can't buy more than one or two beers at the bar. We can't just go to the mall if we need new shoes, new clothes, or even a pretzel. When we spend, we have to plan a bit more than the...employed. It's a hard trade off because on the one hand, you become free from the commercial and material sense of money but you become much more at the mercy of unpredictable events in life. You are free from the power of money, but have no power of money.

Lastly, I was thinking on a topic that comes up often in the volunteer life, the purpose of why we volunteer; how do you break the cycle of poverty. There are some that theorize and believe that it is through education, improving the schools of an area and thus enriching future generations. Some believe that big government will solve the problem, increasing income taxes and allowing government guidance of where money is needed and allocation to individual families. Still others believe that non-for profits will solve the problem. Others think that charity either checked or unchecked by prudence will solve the situation. Or maybe its one of the thousands of possible solutions. The answer of course is, is probably one or a combination of many of these things (except big government, of course). But, it occurred to me, while driving through Wilmette, Illinois, one of the richest suburbs maybe in existence. Driving past the multi million dollar mansions with 4 cars out front. I thought immediately of how many rooms in that mansion were empty now, at this very moment, and how little space there is in so many of trailers in our county. I thought of how many rooms were so pleasantly heated while so many rooms not 5 miles from our home in Kentucky remained cold. I thought of how many cars out front wouldn't be driven that week, and how many people in our county need a ride to work. It occurred to me; poverty will always exist as long as the people who have more than they need keep from those who need more than they could ever want. Now, don't get me wrong. I'm not a class warrior, and I don't think these folks are evil or hateful or any of those things, just because they have money. But, as long as individuals, as long as good people, worry about how much less they have than the people to their right and overlook how much more they have than the people to their left, as long as people ignore obvious problems, be it on the tv, in their country, or on their own street corner, poverty will always exist.

Cheers mates.


Brian said...

Your summary of the power of money captures the plight/privilege of the volunteer very well.

And, the boat did very well in Kentucky, considering it ran out of gas...

Anonymous said...

"The rich get richer and the poor get poorer".

An old saying, but truer now than ever before. What will Amercia be like 10 years from now? 20 years? 50 years?

Watch out, as the spread between rich and poor grows wider and wider, so does the possibilty for brotherhood between the two groups.

I am all for capitalism, I guess, but glutteny and greed need to be kept at bay.

Anonymous said...

Andy I always love reading your blogs...but this one hits home to some of the things I have been thinking about as well...poverty...and how to get rid of seems it may even go deeper than I could ever imagine.
See ya soon!
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