Some “community organizing” seems to consist of paid organizers coming into a community, “never wasting a crisis” by trying to create pressure groups to gouge resources out of businesses, pushing for union demands, and demanding government create more and bigger and more generous largesse to redistribute wealth from the private sector to an ever-increasing entitlement class.
Class warfare slogans abound, angry rhetoric, and anyone who stands in the way of the demands of such “community organizers” is branded a terrorist, a racist, a barbarian at the gates, an evilrichcorporate interest or controlled by one, and various profanities- among other epithets. “Organizing” for these Saul Alinsky disciples consists of mobs of screaming, lockstep pressure groups bused in unison to invade private businesses, homes, and government public buildings yelling pre-programmed slogans, waving pre-produced signs in matching tee shirts, and demanding more, more, and more public money to “fix” private problems. There’s always a woman with a clipboard and a guy with a bullhorn. They are exhorted to “get in the face” of anyone with the temerity to disagree.
Then there is “community organizing”, Texas style. Right now there is a crisis in Texas in many of our communities. A terrible drought has created a tinderbox and terrible wildfires have killed people, destroyed the homes of thousands of families, and created desperate circumstances for many people in need, thrown into homelessness overnight with all their possessions gone.
Texans don’t wait for a group, a government, or a “community organizer” trained in the Alinsky method to tell them how to love their neighbor. They grew up learning this through their churches, their family, and their friends and neighbors who all grew up that way, too. So it is natural for Texans to ORGANIZE THEMSELVES into immediate, effective, generous thousands donating freely to help those devastated by the fires.
I was privileged to see a little of this effort in action yesterday. Down the road from me is a nice little BBQ restaurant a couple of young kids have started. They took over a former feed store and fixed it up, and are still fixing it up, and through hard work, good food and fair prices have become an admired part of the community. But despite being full-time small business owners and busy parents of young children, now they have also taken on the role of community organizers to help the fire victims.
They have set up a collection point in the back room of the restaurant where they are going to create a little additional bar and put up homemade signs to donate there for the fire folks in need and the firemen, gathered friends and neighbors to accept and sort stuff, and are in the process of loving their neighbor as themselves along with many other volunteers. I saw the signs and brought in some stuff, and stopped and helped a bit.
What I saw was community organizing the way we do it here. They had already collected so much stuff the nearby fire victims were covered, and they were organizing vans and trucks to drive supplies farther away. The local Kroger had donated pallets of water for the firefighters. People were donating not only good used clothing but buying packages of new underwear for people who all of sudden literally didn’t have a clean pair of drawers to their name.
Inside the local Kroger, the bin designated for food for the fire victims overflowed with donations. Back at the BBQ place, every few minutes, a car would drive up and someone would tote in another bag of “stuff people need”- baby food, diapers, a little package of hair bows for a little girl who might no longer even have one, food, clothing, shoes, basic medicine, on and on. The volunteers would go through it and organize and label boxes of supplies.
As I stood there and watched when things slowed down, a man came in. He shyly reached in his pocket, pulled out a hundred dollar bill, and handed it to one of the volunteers. She asked him if he wanted a receipt, he modestly ducked his head and murmured in the negative, and went on his way. I was struck by what a quiet, kind demeanor he had, not wanting to make a fuss, just give… not the kind of guy who would make a good Saul Alinskyite, for sure. But I’ll bet he is probably a very good businessman- and obviously a good person.
All over Texas, these scenes are taking place as we go about quietly helping our own, doing what we have always done in an emergency, and what many of us consider not anything special, just our “Christian duty”. And of course, at the forefront of these efforts are those evil Christian fundamentalist churches demonized as a danger to society on every mainstream media news outlet who lionize and so respect those other kind of “community organizers.”
One of my spare rooms has become a temporary repository for the excess clothing to be stored until it is needed again to distribute in a couple of weeks or a month as the need continues. And every time I look at that abundance so freely given to others who are hurting and in need, it reminds me how good, how loving, how positive, and how independent the proud, individual “community organizers” of Texas are. Oh- and there were tee shirts- but they were privately printed and being sold to help the victims. God bless Zach and Holly and the energetic team of friends who are there helping- and may Zach’s BBQ prosper for many years. And God bless Texas.