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Old 02-15-2008, 11:46 PM   #1
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Knitters and compassion
I am so sadened to hear the voices inthe thread about panhandlers that I thought I should start my own thread.

see I'm a grad student in education and my advisor thinks it would be a great idea to write about knitting and education. I'm a feminist and I believe in educating adults to be enlightened witnessess to the oppressive culture of domination we live in and use educaiton to make positive changes in our lives. That's what MLK was all about. He was trying to build a Beloved Community of people who could see how our culture was killing our spirit and he worked to educate us to have compassion for one another to create a better world.

I want to study knitting groups and how they learn to develop compassionfor one another andfor thse in thier communities (by knitting blankets, hats, etc)

Now that may be mushy for some of you but for me I believe its possible. You see I see panhandlers on the side of the road and I feel compassion for them. It is not my place to judge them. THey are there for whatever reason. If they feel like stealing money or asking for it is the only way they know how to make it in this world then who am I to judge? I mean they are standing out there in the cold and the rain, all day, breathing in car fumes and what not. While I get to drive past them to buy wholesome food to eat in my warm house. Who am I to judge? If anything they need our love and compassion, not our scorn. Scorn is probably what got them in thier situation in the first place.

And using terms like "those people" removes ourselves from them and thier plight. We could all become homeless, disabled or any number of unfortunate situations at any minute. Who are we to judge? I mean we are all stuck on thisplanet together. If Marsians came down to take over, they don't care who is homeless or black or gay or whatever. They will take us ALL. So as human beings all we have is this planet and each other. We need to take care of one another and care for one another becasue we are all we have.

OK I'm coming off my soap box and taking a deep breath.

Discuss.........
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Old 02-15-2008, 11:48 PM   #2
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Amen!
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Old 02-16-2008, 12:13 AM   #3
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I think that we have all become cynical. It's not necessarily that we lack compassion.

My dh is in law enforcement, and I used to work at a law enforcement agency where I saw every arrest record that came through that place. You would just be amazed at the amount of fraud and deception that goes on in one tiny corner of the world (I do not live in a very big city).

I don't think everyone is judgmental. People are just cautious.

I've heard of people who offered to give someone a sack of food, but the person does not want that. They want money. Who's to say if they are going to spend it on alcohol or drugs? Should we be contributing to their addiction?

There are so many charity organizations and churches around that are more than willing to help destitute people. I'm sure that pride keeps many from entering those doors. But still...

I think your paper will be wonderful, and you sound like a person with the most gentle of hearts.

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Old 02-16-2008, 12:54 AM   #4
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Good words, feministmama!

And I'd like to add a little to the subject: When a panhandler asks for money...if you don't want to give money...or if you truly have no cash money either...just say no. Don't offer an alternative. Offering an alternative 'gift' can give offense to a panhandler. They didn't ask for food, they asked for money. Politely say no...or say nothing at all...and no eye-rolling...and move on...and judge not.

That's my 2 cents worth.

I hope I don't get into trouble for offering my 2 cents.
No offense intended towards anyone. My 2 cents is just worth about that much! Two cents. I'm not posting as a repercussion to anyone else's 2 cents worth.
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Old 02-16-2008, 12:02 PM   #5
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While we have some panhandlers in our town, there aren't that many. My children got an eye-opening experience when we were in Portland (OR) last month and saw many many (in comparison to where we live) panhandlers on the streets. We've had some very frank discussions about them and how they may have gotten into those situations. I've had to answer questions like, "Why don't they just go get a job" and "Don't they have someone, anyone, that they can live with." Those are hard questions. But I try to answer them with compassion and understanding. I always remind them of my favorite Elvis quote, "Don't judge a man, son, unless you've walked a mile in his shoes." Which of course reminds me of the Elvis we saw in Portland down on Burnside St who had his guitar and amplifier and stood out singing Elvis songs for coins in his guitar case.

We talk openly and honestly about poverty and its many forms.

I like how you are studying the compassion of knitters. What an excellent idea!
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Old 02-16-2008, 12:05 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by ArtLady1981 View Post
Good words, feministmama!

And I'd like to add a little to the subject: When a panhandler asks for money...if you don't want to give money...or if you truly have no cash money either...just say no. Don't offer an alternative. Offering an alternative 'gift' can give offense to a panhandler. They didn't ask for food, they asked for money. Politely say no...or say nothing at all...and no eye-rolling...and move on...and judge not.
Excellent words! I know people who say, "Well, if I give him money he's just going to go drink it all." OK, so? But he may go buy a sandwich or food or a jacket at Goodwill or his bus fare to get to the homeless shelter. I rarely give any money, only because I don't carry cash often. I have given a jacket to a homeless guy once. I had an old jacket of dh's in the backseat and it was that horrible sleeting rain that we sometimes get and he had nothing on but a t-shirt. He was quite thankful and it was totally impulsive.
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Old 02-16-2008, 12:46 PM   #7
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I couldn't agree more with you, feministmama. Compassion has a chance of changing the world - cynicism and judgment will never do anything useful.

Your subject is absolutely fascinating. It would be a great subject for a magazine don't you think? I would love to read about a subject like that!

One thing I'm wondering is the "kind" of compassion people develop. As you say, knitting groups, as any communities, allow people to develop compassion for one another. Which is awesome! But does it help to develop compassion for other groups, that can be far from them? I suppose knitters are representative of the society, so I would think some are more compassionate than others about different groups. But I know for me, I think I do have more compassion to homeless people now that I'm a knitter. Knitting deals mostly with making items that are warm and comfortable. Items that are essential to survive here in the winter. These are things I can easily knit, and that can make all the difference in the world. Because knitting has to do with an essential need of human beings, I think it did give me the opportunity to see situations with a different eye.

Anyways, just wanted to share with you my thoughts on the subject!
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Old 02-16-2008, 01:58 PM   #8
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Ever since I took up knitting, I think of my dad. After he died in 2001, I found out that he used to go out and distributed gloves to the homeless on the street. I never, ever knew that about him. One day, after I learn how to make them, I would like to carry on my dad's giving.

I do think that is one great thing about knitting. It provides a practical outlet to exercise compassion. We give without expecting anything in return and to people who, most of the time, cannot offer anything in return.
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Old 02-16-2008, 02:52 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by knitncook View Post
Excellent words! I know people who say, "Well, if I give him money he's just going to go drink it all." OK, so? But he may go buy a sandwich or food or a jacket at Goodwill or his bus fare to get to the homeless shelter. I rarely give any money, only because I don't carry cash often. I have given a jacket to a homeless guy once. I had an old jacket of dh's in the backseat and it was that horrible sleeting rain that we sometimes get and he had nothing on but a t-shirt. He was quite thankful and it was totally impulsive.
I heard this story from one of my student: She was with some friends going to a bar when they were stopped by a homeless person asking for spare change. One of her friends said "No way, you're just going to go use it to get drunk" What irony. So they "deserve" to go drinking but a homeless person doesn't.
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Old 02-16-2008, 02:54 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by auburnchick View Post
Ever since I took up knitting, I think of my dad. After he died in 2001, I found out that he used to go out and distributed gloves to the homeless on the street. I never, ever knew that about him. One day, after I learn how to make them, I would like to carry on my dad's giving.
What a nice story. I love stuff like this.
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