We cherish too, the Poppy red
That grows on fields where valor led,
It seems to signal to the skies
That blood of heroes never dies
Hear the tolling of the bells -
What a world of solemn thought
Their monody compels!
--The Bells, Edgar Allen Poe
And now abideth faith, hope, charity,
these three; but the greatest
of these is charity
--1 Corinthians 13:13 (KJV)
This a minor observation, but needing to return to a store twice today reminded me of how oblivious or robotic people can be.
The Salvation Army bell-ringers are out with their little red metal pots seeking change outside of grocers. It's not much to place your spare change in the pot, and it is for a good cause. But I witnessed at least 40 people walk past and give nothing. Some made eye contact with the bell-ringer, many had children with them, some were sure to look the other way.
On my second exit from the store almost everyone in my cohort smiled at her as they walked passed, but not one offered anything. As she forced a smile back, it seemed she was thinking the same thing as I. These were often well-dressed business people, so money cannot have been an issue.
When I was child, my mother made it clear what the money was going to and always gave me change for the bucket and taught me that it was bad form not to give something. She said it was a rather thankless job, so the least we could do was smile and give something. It was a lesson in inclusivity, no matter how small.
But nobody was taking this moment today to teach her kids. It reminded me of the many small humanities from my childhood which I do not see today, like little red poppies for the lapel on Memorial Day. It was just understood -- it seemed like everyone bought and wore one on that day, and it was another teaching point for me, the idea that some things were to be remembered and consecrated.
Unholy consumer pilgrimages like "Black Friday" were shunned. Like every kid, I was greedy for the latest greatest toy, but was taught that I'd become bored with it within an hour, and to stick with amusements that would go the distance like art and books. It really wasn't so bad, and I don't recall the profusion of gaudy and meaningless stuff that surrounds most kids today.
So back to the people blithely passing the bell-ringers: Do they think the people with the Santa caps are just part of the mise-en-scene, and their life is a big festivity devoted to their own distraction? Do they resent the intrusion into their lives? Do they think anything?
This is the Deep South, and southerners do tend to have a scarcity mentality. But some of the people exiting that store were surely parishioners of some church, and isn't charity part of the lesson?
I understand the new watered-down biblical versions which they probably follow in the Baptist church have replaced "charity" with "love", but surely they are not thinking solely of love incarnate, like Edward in Twilight . . . or, are they?