I hope as you are reading this you are fine. Yes, I know, I got plenty to say, so let me just hop to it.
Today, I’d like to take this opportunity to address something that has been brought to my attention. The matter is one that dovetails with other related concerns, and so I have an even greater impetus or reason to post on it.
It concerns some young people who are now experiencing overwhelming pain and gut-wrenching despondency. It is the kind of thing that pressed my heart and pushed me to promise that I’d bring it up as a topic for this blog.
Allow me to introduce this story to you with these words: From the grapevine itself, I picked up a tidbit that has since turned sour. You see, these young people about whom I speak had an idea. They decided that since they were having a hard time getting a job in their city, they would come up with their own little hustle to make some money.
What’s the hustle? ... Well, let’s just say it’s akin to selling something like lemonade. I don’t want to divulge exactly what it is for the sake of anonymity, but I can assure you that it is perfectly legal. Legal, that is, in every other respect except one or two, which led to the shut down of their operation because of a zoning issue. They were selling a product in front of the home where they live.
But even if they were to sell on the street in the midst of traffic, as they were told, I believe, they could do, they would still need to purchase a license, which they said would be a hardship for them. They were told that they would be fined $500 if they persisted in the operation of their little hustle without the license.
The result of this warning went beyond the shutdown. They have lost their only means of income, which had brought them great delight as they were making money (which actually by comparison to a regular job, was a little more than "chump change") and receiving many compliments from many supportive buyers.
These adults went from an idea to an expression of that idea. From having no money to making some money, money that they would not have had because of the situation they found themselves in due to a lack of any employment being offered by someone else. What they were doing seems smart and worthwhile and so would it be for laws created to foster rather than hamper such efforts.
This would have the added benefit of increasing the ranks of individuals who’d feel a greater sense of worth and dignity. We don’t need laws that are nonsensical and unnecessarily harsh and punitive. Again, as it stands now their hopes have been dashed and their entrepreneurial spirit has been crushed by the weight of an insensitivity to the needs of people who can’t get the help they need, but yet are held back or penalized when they attempt to carve out a means to partially sustain themselves.
Residents are saying that the heat and pressure need to be placed instead on the real crimes that adversely plague the city, rather than on derailing those who seek solutions to their own unemployment issues. Many people believe that there is a correlation between high unemployment and a high crime rate, and feel that if we can get more people busy working, we'd see a reduction in the crime rate. We would see uplifted spirits as well and less incentives to go out and rob or steal.
It has been suggested that licensing costs and restrictions be eased in light of these harsh economic and social realities. Is it right to level these types of charges on people who are already disadvantaged? Many faced in similar situations feel, quite frankly, that the money they do make should be used to build-up their business; that they should not be subjected to burdens connected with zoning laws and licensing. They don't see that they are doing anything harmful; and that, if anything, they should be commented for what they are doing as many have taken a “different” route other than, for example, the obviously lucrative alternative of selling drugs.
We are talking about people who are law-abiding citizens who want to do something, but feel they are, for whatever reason, out of the mainstream because for many years they have been unable to obtain employment even during the good or better times, as some would call it. These are people who feel perhaps alienated from a second group who also have had lengthier track records of employment but who were as well nearer to the mainstream than they.
These are people whose lives have been more on the “downstream” in the context of having issues that a little compassion and understanding would have easily resolved and can still be. These are not lazy people asking for anything huge. They just feel frustrated and defeated at times for wanting an opportunity to have the kind of life that every human being deserves but not seeing these wants fulfilled.
Again, I repeat, these are not troublemakers, but people who feel they have been left to fend for themselves to do their best at devising their own monkey-making opportunities. To whose advantage is it being served that they should be stymied in their efforts?
Why should their actions be criminalize? Is there a logic that flows that's just not coming our way? Why is it so hard that people who seek to make a difference in the world are having to go through all kinds of hoops and then some just for something as small as selling a small vendor item? Why take away the joy, let alone the privilege of their wanting to be able to provide for their families or for the family of which they are a part? Is it that they are asking for something unreasonable or so unfeasible that it just simply cannot be granted? If so, then why? Would it make a difference to know that what these young people seek is more like a hand up, rather than a hand out? They don't mind contributing to the public coffers, but they are not at that stage. Not yet. They are just seeking to get started. They are still green and trying to learn the ropes, the rudiments of a business work ethic.
As one individual expressed it: “Here, I’m doing something positive—running a good operation. I have a professional look, with a banner and all. Now, they’re telling me I can’t operate. I can’t get a job in the city. Nobody’s hiring me. What am I supposed to do? That’s why many young people go out and rob people. That’s why many sell drugs. I’m not trying to go that way. But I do understand.”
Now those are not the exact words, but that's the gist behind the thought. What do you say to such a person when it seems their only option has been taken away? Sure, a person can get a license if they have the money or if they have all the other things attendant to getting an operation off the ground, which brings us back to the fact that for many to make money, they need money. In this case, money for a business. But the lovely thing about this situation is this: once you’ve overcome and you’re in operation mode, you’ll at that phase in your business creation plan called self-employment—especially when the money starts rolling and you hear that familiar caching.
Now it is at this point or perhaps a little later that I make my dovetail. Hopefully everything is running well for those who are self-employed. But for someone who is just starting to entertain the notion of starting a business, who still hasn’t gotten there yet, there’s the need to be aware and take advantage of certain information, one of which includes, for example, having all the paperwork procedures in place. Many do not do this or if they do, they hesitate for fear of incurring fees they cannot pay; they may not know which business format would best serve their needs. There are other people who seem almost to have crossed over to the side of success with respect to their gig, but need some technical assistance, or some other element(s) that can give their operation that coveted measure of credibility or that foundational support that would create the best environment for obtaining a greater or more solid success.
The fact is—and has always been—people need a support system. We live in a global economy and one such that many are not getting jobs or having difficulty creating their own. People who are highly educated/skilled or highly experienced are finding it uneasy, too incredibly. Some people have had encounters with the law (even for minor brushes) that have made them persona non grata or undesirables in the eyes of many who make employment decisions. Also, among the usual discriminatory situations, where a person is denied a job in the first place, are the situations where a person loses a job for reasons other than that the person did not or could not perform the duties required of him or her.
In these vastly changing times, we are seeing more issues where people are losing and/or acquiring jobs based on the newer dynamics taking place with respect to our human relations, how people view and treat each other. If you’re not catching my drift, then let be a bit blunt to say that the rules of any kind of job etiquette are just as gone as a leaf blown away by the wind. I don’t want to expand further on that. I want and need to get this post finish and out to you. But going to my next point.
A person can lose a job simply because of personality differences, being disliked or—believe it or not—lose a job out of another's sheer jealousy. No, most people with an agenda are not going to come out openly with the truth. If the truth happens to be discriminatory, don’t hold your breath. If it’s for some other personal reason, let’s say, like the person doesn’t like you, your personality, or what you represent, then it may be still the same as the previous case. Usually, what happens in either case is that the person who’s to be canned receives a trumped up charge that’s used as justification for the firing or dismissal. The other approach is to simply make your employment there so unbearable that you wind up quitting for the sake of your own health, which includes your mental state of being or peace of mind.
According to my understanding, there is a law in the books that stipulates an "at will," situation which allows an unscrupulous employer to be rid of a person, just as the phrase says, "at will." And there seems no recourse available as some lawyers are not willing or reluctant to take on these matters, because they don't hold much prospect for success, given that the law(s) make(s) it virtually impossible. To go to some agencies with mandates that are supposed to assist you in such matters often proved a waste of time for any number of reasons upon which we can speculate.
Yes, life is not fair as we all know. Not fair for an employee who loses a job through the malicious machinations of other employees who fight dirty to "win" from among the so few jobs that are out there. This kind of behavior has become more rampant as more people are developing an attitude that basically says, “I’ll do anything if it means getting a job, holding on to it, or moving to the top, no matter at whose expense or at what price.”
And what about the employers take on this? I'm talking about the unemployment situation now. ... Well, from the employer’s perspective, an employee may lose his or her job due to some failure the employer feels is not his. It could be that he is looking at this from a business perspective that tells him that retaining a certain number of employees is unprofitable, and so he has to let some of them go. Many employers resort to downsizing as a means to maintain the company’s existence.
For the record, there are still employers that exist who genuinely seek to operate under principles that include integrity and fairness, some go further to provide winning situations for themselves and their employees. These employers do aim to treat their employees as human beings, and in turn benefit tremendously from what these employees bring to the company. There are good and bad on both sides of this equation.
So with all I’ve said, the beat goes on, with economic hardships hitting us all: employer, employee, middle class, working class, poor, whites, blacks, all ethnicities. Many are experiencing their own unique or not so unique pain. Everyone has a story to tell. Those with a story about times that were marked by sunshine and smooth (or smoother) sailing are now finding the waters a little rough. And those with a story about days regularly marked by the same rough waters are like pros. They’ve always known what these waters were like for they’ve been on the lowest rung at the bottom for so long. It’s not unfamiliar to them. It’s not new.
The silver lining for the latter group of people is that often they are more prone to come to a faith in God that has seen their plight and has guided them through their rough voyages. For them God has made a way through his providence to provide those whom he has called to come to their aid and assist them, to shower them with mercy, grace, and love as it had been shown to these givers by God himself and the ones they meet on a horizontal plane, meaning through their earthly relations with others.
The bible is replete with verses that express concern for the poor. For example, to not turn a blind eye to the plight of the poor is analogous to a decision to minister personally to Jesus Christ (Matthew 25:35-40). We’re told through these sacred pages that blessings will bounce back to those who bless others with their giving. We're reminded to treat the poor, the sick, and the needy with noble qualities such as mercy, grace, and dignity. When we do all of these things, we give honor to our Creator.
I’ve heard people say, too, that one of the best acts of giving is teaching a person how to fish for themselves. That sounds like a great plan, and I believe that if the people on whose behalf I speak felt they weren’t being taught, they had made up their minds to teach themselves how to do their own fishing as best they know how. If for some reason, this cannot or won't be done, then the appeal goes out (and one gracefully requested at that) to not put stumbling blocks in their way.
I know this is quite an eyeful if not an earful, so that's why I appreciate even more all the support I receive from supporters such as each and every one of you. You may not realize this, but you are a tremendously blessing in my life, and I certainly understand the joy of doing those things you truly love.
Again, thank you for taking the time to read this or for reading what you can or have time to. Either way, know how special you are in the lives of so many people. May your lives be and remain richly blessed, remembering that in God's eyes you are loved dearly.
Till next time,
P.S. For those who like to follow Scripture, I commend a few more verses, among so many other related passages: Matthew 26:11; Mark 14:7; Proverbs 13:31; Proverbs 14:31; Jeremiah 22:16; Deuteronomy 15:10