* Easily breakable

(Originally posted 08/25/12 at Trojan Horse Productions.  Reblogged 09/13/18.)

06/25/12 I had to buy another flash drive.

I was downloading the music for The William Tell Show. I backed up the .mp3 files by attaching them to e-mails to myself. Problem: some files, such as the first movement of Tchaikovski’s violin concerto, exceed 25 MB and can’t be attached to a Yahoo! e-mail. What to do? Get another flash drive, to back up just those files.

My current flash drive consisted of an aluminum sleeve wrapped around a flat plastic stick. The stick had the USB contacts at one end, and the other end was shaped into a hook. By moving the sleeve back and forth, you could either expose the USB contacts for use, or hide them and expose the hook, to clip the drive onto, say, a key ring for storage.

The clerk offered me a different kind, with no hook or loop or anything that would let me attach it to something for storage. I don’t want to carry the drive around loose in my pocket or bag. So I asked for another like the one I already have. She said people have had trouble with those because “they’re easily breakable.” She said the staff at the Public Computer Center had seen this so much that they asked for the new kind instead.

I smiled and said nothing.

The drives aren’t easily breakable. Rather, some people easily break them.

Prosperity isn’t first of all a state (or status or condition), nor (most certainly not) a result of political processes. It is instead principally a frame of mind, accompanied by like behaviors. Disadvantage is likewise principally a frame of mind, accompanied by disadvantaging behaviors.

Some people break their flash drives.

Looking back on my years as a schoolteacher, it was always the same children who came to class in need of a working pencil, pen or paper: those who came from the most disadvantaged homes. The parents had no regard for the tools of literacy, and so never taught the children to care for those tools. So in the children’s hands, they often came up broken or missing.

When I was a cashier at the dollar store, certain customers came in with, of all things, their Independence cards all beat up. (In Maryland, the Independence card is a credit-like card that holds a person’s food stamps and state cash benefits, if any.) For a food stamps purchase, if the card could not be “swiped,” we could punch in the account number; but for a cash benefits purchase, such a card was unusable. One woman brought a card completely broken down the middle, the two pieces held together with Scotch tape.

Again at the dollar store, some families replace their backyard furniture every year; for reason that, last year’s furniture, they broke it up.

Squalid people make themselves have-nots.

Jesus’ feeding of the multitude (Matthew 15:29-39) and parable of the talents (Matthew 25:14-30) seem to me to illustrate a cosmic principle: in order to get more — of anything — you must first make right use of what you’ve got.

This applies to wealth, but also to relationships, to love, to time, to talents, to opportunities, to peace of mind.

Take care of what you have. First, don’t waste, or lay waste, or trash or disrespect your own possessions. If you break something, if possible, fix it. That broken window? Don’t leave it as is; don’t board it up. Put it back in its original condition. It doesn’t cost that much, and you — and the neighbors — will feel better.

Take care of your trash! Put it out in the right containers, in the right place, on the right day. How hard can it be?

If you want to get anywhere, there’s only one possible place to start from — where you are now. If you want to acquire material things, there’s only one set of material things you can start with — what you have now. Do so.

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