Sunday, November 20, 2005

6 Days in LA

Traditional Fall Scene

Just got back from a trip to the left coast.

The Blind and The Good

Saw our old housemate Jen. She's helping renovate the inner-city home of an emotionally disturbed and very elderly couple who lived next door to us for years in Pasadena. She figured out how to relocate them--nothing short of a miracle--while their dilapidated and crumbling house gets a major makeover thanks to a non-profit group that does redos for old folks.

Is she wasting her time on people who are too far gone to be worth an investment?

Some folks would think so.

But I wonder if sometimes the best generosity--like the best justice--is blind.

40 Miles in 3 Hours

Had to go from Corona Del Mar to Pomona at 5 pm on a Tuesday.

Took the 73 to the 55 to the 5 to the 57. If you're from LA you may recognize those freeways, though plenty of people who live there for years never do figure out the numbers or how to get from A to D.

I went 40 miles in 3 hours.

Housing prices in SoCal probably rose 5% and the number of middle class people who can afford a home there dropped 10% during my drive. An Olympic athlete, running at a marathon pace, might have beaten me to Pomona.

Enough said. I love SoCal, but living at altitude has its advantages.

Fall on the Sand

Spent the afternoon today raking the last of the leaves on a strikingly lovely Colorado fall day.

Three days ago I had a chance to walk north along the Southern California shoreline from Dockweiler to Marina Del Rey.

I've lived almost my whole life within a short drive of the sea so almost any beach feels familiar and yet still pretty magical too.

Temps were in the 80's and the Santa Anas were blowing which means crystal clear air quality. I could see the details on Catalina and the buildings in my hometown of Santa Monica looked like I could reach out and touch them from 10 miles away.

SaMo Bay was beautiful as always. The pelicans got altitude and then dove straight down and plunged into the waves looking for dinner. Cool.

Just before the sun went down the water was almost sky blue. Moments after the sun dipped below the horizon the bay turned silver. Even cooler.

Fall of Troy?

Oh, one last thing for you Trojan fans. I've seen most of USC's games and Texas's too now that I'm a Big 12 fan. If SC beats UCLA, be concerned about the Rose Bowl. Texas isn't last year's Oklahoma team. Much faster, much better and much more physical. I'm looking forward to that game. I'm pulling for SC, and it's never a good idea to bet against a team with over 30 straight wins, but....


Blogger -Silencer Twist said...

Happened to browse by your blog...

You noted, "Is she wasting her time on people who are too far gone to be worth an investment?
Some folks would think so. But I wonder if sometimes the best generosity -- like the best justice -- is blind."

I've given this a lot of thought over the last few years. I work in a place where I deal with impoverished, drug-addicted, physically and/or mentally ill individuals frequently. Some days, I do believe blind generosity is "right" because I may have no idea what terrible life circumstances have brought this person to this point in their lives, even if their remaining at this point is clearly a choice they are making in some cases.
Other days, when a person is extraordinarily rude and seemingly greedy, I feel like screening people out of my generosity scope.

When you think about it: Do you help a mentally ill couple or a single parent with 4 children? The mentally ill couple is unlikely to impact anyone in a positive way in the future. The generosity will stay with them only. However, helping the single parent could help produce 4 better adjusted children who may go on to help others in the future.

Do you help people just for the sake of helping them, or do you help based on the probability of a positive future outcome? If you needed help, would you want someone to consider your life circumstances or just help?

Some things to ponder :-)


11:47 PM  
Blogger Jennifer said...

I'm the friend helping the elderly neighbors. First let me clarify a few details...
The city health department actually "relocated" my neighbors...quite against their will. In the end, I attribute it to God, really. They'd been living in deteriorating conditions for years, but maybe it was reaching a critical point...God sent bees and I called the health dept. and a year later they arrived with police and an "inspection warrent" and said "There is no way you can continue to live here...for your own sakes."

It's tough to decide how to proceed. Right now there is not enough money to do the necessary renovations. The longer they are out of the house, the less able they are, physically and mentally, to go back to the house. Do we keep working? Do we try to raise money to get a crazy, cranky old man and his frail sister who wouldn't even leave her depressing "retirement" home to come to my house for Thanksgiving dinner, back into their house...which they clearly couldn't take care of for the past 15 years? Or do we let them become more and more depressed, physically weak, and discontent in their very unplesant room in the very unplesant "home" where they are currently? After all, they'll die soon...and all the sooner if we leave them where they are.

But how does one be a party to such suffering? Granted, they've caused most of their own suffering... but does that exempt them from mercy? If I'm convinced that God intervened, then how can I not also continue to hold hope and mercy for them... no matter how feebly and sometimes grudgingly I hold it. It's a tough question... and a tougher practice.

12:24 PM  
Blogger Wordcat said...

great comments and questions, twist. hard choices when resources are limited. Jen, your situation is sort of text book example of the things she mentioned in her comments. Sometimes it does come down to a committment to stick with people that God continues to stick with even if the rational cost benefit analysis makes little sense.

2:46 PM  
Anonymous John Teter said...

Jen, thanks for your thoughts and sticking with the family, showing them mercy. You are a great example of loving people who will not pay you back. Way to show mercy.

Tom, as for the big Texas game. I like Pete Carroll and the long breaks. Last year he engineered a defensive scheme to shut down OU, holding Peterson to 70 yards. I can't wait to see if they can do the same with Vince Young. This should be a great Rose Bowl.

11:47 PM  
Blogger Wordcat said...

Hey John. Ya, I'm looking forward to this one more than any college game in a long time. I think Pete can scheme em but I worry about Young. He's so unpredictable and athletic, sort of like Bush. And I think Texas is very hungry and motivated. You can't believe how seriously people take football in this part of the country.

9:14 PM  

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