Tuesday, February 26, 2013

6th Annual Cowboy Up Benefit for Samaritan House

It is that time of the year again to help Samaritan House meet the challenge of homelessness in Northwest Montana and have fun doing it. The 6th Annual "Cowboy Up" benefit dinner concert and auction will be held on April 20th at Gardners Austion, on Highway 93 South, in Kalispell.
Tickets for the benefit at $35 each will include a pig roast dinner, live and silent auction, ticket holder raffle and live music from the Smart Alex. Beer and Wine will be available for purchase. Doors open at 5:00 pm and dinner begins at 6:00 pm. Tickets can be purchased at the door or at Samaritan House.
Samaritan House is one of Montana's premiere homeless shelters. It provides a Transitional Housing program with Case Management services, a kitchen and cafeteria and a broad range of services and supports to help break the cycle of homelessness. In 2011, Samaritan House served over 1,100 local homeless people and provided more than 34,000 meals in the cafeteria.
Smart Alex is a four-piece band with over 143 years of combined musical performance experience. They play a wide variety of music including classic rock, swing and country.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

The Joy of Being in Debt

We don't typically think of debt as a good thing. Sometimes it seems necessary. Perhaps we have a circumstance present itself and there is no way to alleviate the situation unless we make the difficult decision to take measures that will leave in a rough financial place. Unforeseen illness or emergencies might arise and the next thing we know, we are behind the eight ball faster than we realize it. Things begin to snowball and we become frustrated or overwhelmed and we cease to care what happens because we feel we are caught in a no-win situation.

Other times we avoid it as long as we can before plunging head first into an abyss of binge purchasing. These are the times that our actions are occasional and impulsive, but totally avoidable. We see something we want and we buy it, often on the spot and with little care to what the consequences of our actions produce (Hint: has any rational human being ever purchased a Chia Pet out of need?). These sorts of dents are paid off quickly and seldom the cause of financial ruin for a person.

When a person is in debt there is a stigma attached. It is easy to presume that the debt is warranted and person in debt is getting exactly what they deserve. After all, this is America and if a person works hard enough, then they can accomplish whatever they want. Conversely, if a person is in debt, that individual is lazy and prone to make poor decisions and we should have little sympathy for them.  It seems natural to equate debt and poverty with poor work ethic and indifference. After all, a person reaps what they sow, right? 

But I have a problem with this line of thinking. It has its roots in an idea called Individualism, which is a form of Social Darwinism. Basically, it means that society has a way of weeding out those who are not fit to live in it. If a person is at the end of their rope economically, it is their own fault and they are paying the consequences of their actions. Society is better off without them because they are a drain and burden to everyone else who is not struggling.

Now, people rarely voice this in such a crude way. But we think it. We see someone who is struggling or who is dealing with unenviable circumstances and we assume they did it to them self. And while it is true that many people do make poor decisions and choices that lead to ruin, it is not a forgone conclusion that when a person is struggling they are doing so because they are lazy or trying to "live off the system." Often, things happen that are out of our control and we do the best that we can while dangling as close to the edge as we can without falling off.

I challenge us to not think this way. Perhaps there is a new form of debt we can rack up that will be helpful. The debt of gratitude we feel toward others as we try helping each other out and not assuming the worst because someone is in need.