I Was Hungry and You Gave Me Food

We have begun to assume that our concerns for what a person will do with the money we give them absolves us from Our Lord’s expectation that we will care for them. This is not true.

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In Matthew’s Gospel Jesus describes how we will be judged after our death. Our Lord focuses on how we treat those around us, specifically the less fortunate. These days, however, we seem to have run into a bit of a roadblock that often keeps us from helping those around us. Namely, we have become very concerned about what a beggar will do with our money if we give it to him. We question whether or not he will spend the money on food and water, or if he will squander it on drugs, alcohol, or gambling. These are all legitimate concerns that we may have. But there is a problem: We have begun to assume that our concerns for what a person will do with the money we give them absolves us from Our Lord’s expectation that we will care for them. This is not true.

While we do not have to give money to every poor person we meet, we still need to find a way to care for the poor around us. One way to do this is to donate food, money, or time to a reputable soup kitchen/food pantry that serves the poor in our community. Another option, if you believe that it is safe to do so, would be to buy the poor person some food. Something else that I have tried in the past is to carry one or two gift cards for local restaurants in my wallet. This way if I were to give it to someone, they would have to spend it on food. I avoided carrying cards for grocery stores as many of those places also sell alcohol. These are all different options that carry their own pros and cons. How we choose to help the poor around us will depend on each of our own abilities as well as our circumstances and the degree of safety in our community.

If you can, I would suggest taking some time to work in a soup kitchen or food pantry. Even if you donate food and/or money to the organization, I think that there is a benefit to working directly with the people in your community and developing relationships with them. Working with a team of other people in an enclosed environment can be a safer way to get to know the people of your community if you live in a city where there is danger in the streets.

Let me know if you have any other suggestions on how we can serve the hungry in our communities.

God bless!

Caleb

*Photo credit: Photo by Kate Remmer on Unsplash

Limitless Power?

Anime characters can always keep going. They never have to stop. Whether they are fueled by their emotions, friendship, or by sheer willpower, they are unstoppable…I’ve been thinking recently about what we can gain from this message and how it can effect us in the real world.

There’s a recurring theme that I’ve noticed in several of the anime that I have watched over the years. The main characters always seem to have an internal source of power that can never run dry. Digimon always have a new digivolution to reach, Goku can always reach a new level of Super Saiyan, Beyblades that should have stopped spinning a long time ago are suddenly spinning at full speed again, etc. If you never watched those anime as a kid, then you probably don’t know what any of those words mean, but it basically boils down to this: anime characters can always keep going. They never have to stop. Whether they are fueled by their emotions, friendship, or by sheer willpower, they are unstoppable. Many anime portray this by showing the protagonist being dealt a lethal blow and facing certain defeat. Then, right before the villain is able to claim victory, the lead character simply “decides” that he has to keep going. He can’t let his friends down, so he has to get back up in order to save them. And he does. Somehow, despite all of his injuries he gets back up and defeats his enemy. This message is not unique to anime as it occurs in other media, and is a common theme in our society.

I’ve been thinking recently about what we can gain from this message and how it can effect us in the real world. On one hand, it is inspiring to watch our heroes keep pushing forward despite the odds. It can inspire us to face the obstacles in our lives head on, no matter how difficult they may appear. We’ve all had days where we have to keep going. For example, there have been times when I’ve had to go a few days on minimal sleep in order to complete a project for a class. And many parents push themselves to limits that they never thought they could reach in order to care for their children. In fact, many times it is only by trying to push beyond our limits that we realize we are much stronger than we ever thought we were.

On the other hand, however, we have to be careful not to expect too much from ourselves. As much as we would like to think that we are unstoppable, the truth is that as humans we have very real limitations. I can function while sacrificing the sleep I need, but if I keep it up for too long toxins will begin to build up in my body in addition to several other harmful effects. Sometimes this is necessary, but other times we expect too much from ourselves because we feel like “I can handle it.” There have been times in my life when I’ve reached out to others for help, whether with school or in my personal life and I’ve been asked “Why didn’t you ask for help sooner?” I’ve gotten better at managing this problem as I’ve gotten older, but there is still that voice in the back of my head that says “I need to be able to do it by myself…I SHOULD be able to do it by myself.”

And that’s where I think the danger is. It is important for us to have the discipline to push ourselves harder and to keep at it when the going gets tough. But every good thing has a dark, twisted side that can rear its ugly head if we aren’t careful. It’s important for us to remember that there is no shame is asking for help when we need it. We also need to remember that we should rely on God more than on our own abilities. Trusting in His love for us takes a lot of the pressure off of our shoulders. He is the only one Who actually has limitless power so we should rely on Him if we want to have the strength to complete the tasks He asks of us. There is nothing wrong with having confidence in the abilities and strengths He has gifted us with, but keep in mind that we have very real limits and it is only with God’s help that all things are possible. He has promised that He will be there for us. The only question is whether or not we will let Him help us.

 

I’d like to thank my cousin Cherrie Ali for encouraging me to keep writing. I highly recommend reading her blog. You can read it here: possibilityandlight.com

 

The Problem With Spotify Ads

I’ve listened to my fair share of ads and “sponsored videos”, and I’ve noticed a recurring problem. Although there are some companies who’s ads are designed well, there are several ads that are poorly designed for the platform they are on.

Marketing has been on my mind a lot lately, most likely because I’m taking Marketing Communications this semester for my management major. While I may not work for a marketing company, the main project for this class involves developing and presenting a marketing plan to a real company, so I kind of have a marketing “job” right now.

The other thing that I’ve been doing is listening to music on Spotify. Since I have the free version, I’ve listened to my fair share of ads and “sponsored videos”, and I’ve noticed a recurring problem. Although there are some companies who’s ads are designed well, there are several ads that are poorly designed for the platform they are on. You see, I never actually watch the ads when they play, and Spotify allows me to lock my screen while the ad is playing, so the video ads easily become an audio-only experience. With several of the ads it is difficult if not completely impossible to discern what brand and product the advertisement is for.

This is a huge problem. People use Spotify to play music in the background when washing dishes, while driving, or in other cases when they cannot watch the video. And why would anyone want to? Even when Spotify gives me the option to “click here” to watch a sponsor’s video in order to temporarily go ad free, I just tap the button, then close my phone screen and go back to whatever I was doing while the ad plays.

This isn’t a critique of Spotify’s advertising system. What I am wondering is this: How much money are these companies wasting by paying to develop ads to be played on a music app where the brand/product cannot be identified based solely on sound? I’m not saying that the video part of the ad isn’t important, but the audio in the advertisement should be developed with the assumption that the consumer will not watch the video. The video component is an added bonus if the user decides to watch it. But there are those who, like myself, never have and never will watch the video and companies with vague, unidentifiable audio in their ads will never reach us.