Years ago I found a little book with words and pictures drawn by Trina Paulus. She published it in 1972. Why I have hung onto this book for so long is anyone’s guess.
However, in this day of cut throat elections of 2020 and the depressive feelings of being closed in…I think I know why this book has a message.
There are climbers for “being on top” in our world today. We often teach our children that they must push for success rather than finding their true purpose. People follow this philosophy, believing that they will find happiness and contentment in life…even if it is, at times, at the expense of others.
Grab a rope and hang on…for we are going to make a very high climb as I share some portions of this enchanting book with you. Perhaps we, together, can find a lesson for our own lives.
As we pray for and look for hope for the world, the title of this book is HOPE FOR THE FLOWERS. The Author begins this way:
“Once upon a time a tiny striped caterpillar burst from the egg which had been home for so long. “Hello world,” he said. “It sure is bright out here in the sun.”
So the caterpillar begins to eat the leaves in which he was born. After much eating, he stopped and wondered if there was more to life than just eating. Climbing down the tree, he decided to look around and see more of the world. He found grass, dirt and bugs that he had never known about. Eventually, he saw a long line of other crawling caterpillars, all heading in the same direction. They were all heading to a large pile of more caterpillars pushing and shoving.
The caterpillar in this story is named Stripe. Stripe was”pushed, kicked and stepped on from every direction. It was climb or be climbed upon. No more “fellow caterpillars” on Stripe’s pile…they became only threats and obstacles which he turned into steps and opportunities.”
As they tried to climb to the top, Stripe finally asked a fellow-climber, “What’s at the top?”
Nobody seemed to know, but Stripe had a conscience because he said, “How can I step on someone I’ve just talked to?”
He also found, along the way, a beautiful caterpillar named Yellow. She talked with Stripe, but he lost track of her until one day when he stepped directly on her head. It was then that Stripe began to believe that climbing on top of other caterpillars hour after hour was an unhappy experience. To try to reach some mysterious place made him say, “…no matter what is up there, it isn’t worth it!” After telling Yellow he was sorry, he saw Yellow begin to cry.
She said, “I didn’t know how badly I felt about this life until then. Now when you look at me so kindly, I know for sure I don’t like this life. I just want to do something like crawl with you and nibble grass.” This was how much she liked Stripe.
Stripe said, “I would like that too.” They had found not only another way to live, but to love and made a decision to give up this monumental climb to the top.
As with many decisions, doubts set in and Stripe decided to leave Yellow and try the climb once more. During the pushing and shoving, he saw a climber falling back down from the top. He barely made out the words being said, “…butterflies alone!” He didn’t know what this meant. Meanwhile, Yellow came each day to the high pile of climbers and watched to see if she would see Stripe…to no avail.
One day, Yellow saw a grey-haired caterpillar hanging on a branch upside down. Asking if she could help, the caterpillar replied, “Oh no, my dear, I have to do this to become a butterfly.”
Doing a little research, Yellow found out that a butterfly drinks the nectar from the flowers and carries the seeds of LOVE from one flower to another. She learned that “without butterflies, the world would soon have few flowers.”
To think that inside herself, as a fuzzy caterpillar, there was a change going to happen. She could be eventually a flying, beautiful butterfly! This was hard to understand.
She longed to tell Stripe that she had found that she could have a completely new life. However, she didn’t know where he might be on the pile of caterpillars. She was told that once she had her new life, she could fly and find him…giving him the good news. It would take time.
Finding new patience and purpose, she continued to give attention to all that she had to do in order to make this wonderful new life a reality.
Stripe, in the mean time, has become ruthless in his climb. He stepped on those around him and said, “Don’t blame me if you don’t succeed! It’s a tough life….”
Then one day as he neared the top of the pile, Stripe heard something more than ruthless from one of his climbing-mates,
“None of us can get any higher without getting rid of them.”
The bodies of caterpillars that were in the way began to fall as others pushed them off the pile.
One caterpillar yelled, “THERE IS NOTHING HERE AT ALL!”
Another yelled, “QUIET, FOOL! THEY’LL HEAR YOU DOWN THE PILE. WE’RE WHERE THEY WANT TO GET. THAT’S WHAT’S HERE!“
Stripe could see that those who knew the truth wanted to keep others from knowing that all their climbing would led them to nothing.
Just at that moment, a beautiful yellow butterfly was circling the pile of caterpillars. There was something about her that look familiar. Stripe knew immediately what he had to do…as he began his long climb DOWN, looking into the eyes of each climbing caterpillar.
“There’s nothing there.” he warned them.
He had never noticed before that each one had something beautiful and different in their eyes. He let them know that to get to the top, one had to fly, which they could each one do if they only knew and waited for their potential. There was something inside that could give them freedom and peace. THEY COULD BE THE HOPE FOR THE FLOWERS.
When we find our purposes as individuals…and as a country….we might also bring hope to the world.
(With respect for the Author, Trina Paulus, and her words/drawings, I will share the Amazon website below, in case you want to read the entire book.
Do we have any idea what is happening in the concrete jungles of the world? Hardly! We only hear the names of big cities…Paris, London, Moscow, New York….and more. What is actually happening in these great metropolises is anybody’s guess. They are only names…without real understanding of the hard working people in their midst.
In these great cities of steel and stone are real people who are trapped in a cycle of over-population, rising costs, air pollution and the rush for investors to take every inch of land in order to build…and build. These great towers rise high and gleam in the sky…the symbol of wealth and prosperity….or DOES IT?
Take a look at our large cities and you might get an answer if you have something to compare the life of those living there and the lives of others around the world. It could make us decide that life in many American towns, even with the great improvements that need to be made, is good and should be appreciated. We must not forget that for most our blessings are great! Perhaps this blog will help us put things into perspective.
You are going to have the opportunity to follow the lives of some select people in a towering city of gigantic, concrete high rises and see what things are really like….HONG KONG. This story can be played out in any large city in the world as desire for more and more constitutes the creed in the world.
But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. 1 Timothy 6:9
Hong Kong is by far the largest source of foreign direct investment in China, totaling U.S.$76 billion by the end of 1995. Mainland money is also pouring into Hong Kong, with Chinese companies investing as much as U.S.$60 billion in the territory in recent years. (Rand)
WHAT IS THE PROBLEM…IN ALL THIS PROSPERITY?
“In glitzy and prosperous Hong Kong, thousands live in conditions deemed an “insult to human dignity”. Low-income residents who can’t keep up with soaring property prices have no choice but to cram into homes barely bigger than a coffin or wire cage. More than 200,000 Hongkongers survive in the cramped and squalid conditions of so-called coffin houses and cage homes. “(RT documentaries)
A BRIEF HISTORY OF HONG KONG and ECONOMIC IMPORTANCE
Starting out as a farming fishing village and salt production site, it became an important free port and eventually a major international financial centre. The Qing dynasty ceded Hong Kong to the British Empire in 1842 through the treaty of Nanjing, ending the First Opium War. (Wikipedia)
The treaty of Nanking in 1842 ceded Hong Kong to the British. Their big ships and military might meant China had little choice at the end of the first opium war. It was given to them in perpetuity. … It was this, the New Territories, that in 1898 the British pledged to give back in 1997 (Newsweek)
Hong Kong exists as a Special Administrative Region controlled by The People’s Republic of China and enjoys its own limited autonomy as defined by the Basic Law. (Investipedia)
The cause of the 2019–20 Hong Kong protests was the proposed legislation of the 2019 Hong Kong extradition bill…and demands for democratic reform…and the fear of losing a “high degree of autonomy” in general. (Wikipedia)
Hong Kong is officially known as the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region. Hong Kong has one of the world’s most thriving economies and is a hub for international trade and investment. A cosmopolitan city, Hong Kong weaves Western and Asian influence into a world-class center of business, culture, and trade. (Hong Kong Atlanta)
One would think that the power and influential of Hong Kong would have economic problems figured out for the workers of this vast empire. However, the desire for wealth doesn’t mean that the average, working citizen can live with any dignity. The economy of any nation is extremely important, but the workers who are the steam behind the engine must not be overlooked.
I’ve asked why most of the workers in our country and others are the poorest of the poor…the most vulnerable to disease that spreads to others? Why are they mostly the only ones willing to work? Why, even during the pandemic in the U.S., did many of these workers, mostly Spanish or Asian, continue working in the slaughter houses while others collected unemployment, refusing to return to work as long as the government paid out?
The answer is simple…they did not want to lose a job that was their only life line. This is also the reason for the workers interviewed in the video below. We must not forget that Hong Kong is still under the thumb of communistic China. You will see in one episode where the men refused to be photographed in fear of losing the only thing they had…a job and a tiny place to live, not much bigger than your average large dog cage in the USA. Fear is a great motivator in survival.
Governments and companies should look seriously at the Holy Scripture and its promises to the worker in Psalm 128:2. The worker is promised something from God if the bosses over them do not interfere.
“You shall eat the fruit of the labor of your hands; you shall be blessed, and it shall be well with you.”
God rewards those who work hard. They deserve to be rewarded and blessed with a good and decent life. Authoritarian powers often cancel out God’s purposes. The world will suffer and men’s actions and greed will eventually be held accountable…not only in the East…but the West.
“You shall not oppress a hired servant who is poor and needy, whether he is one of your brothers or one of the sojourners who are in your land within your towns. You shall give him his wages on the same day, before the sun sets (for he is poor and counts on it), lest he cry against you to the Lord, and you be guilty of sin. Deuteronomy 24:14,15
This video, “Trapped inside Hong Kong’s cage houses” proves what over-crowing and rising costs leads to completely being trapped for these Hong Kong’s workers. When watching this, keep in mind that the same thing can happen in any large city in the world today.
Turn on your sound.
The one National Holiday in the U.S.A that transcends all religious faiths…and simply says “Give Thanks” is being pulled away by the greed of America. That holiday is Thanksgiving. Blame it on the economy if one wants to…getting good buys etc…but there probably is no excuse. Those who work for the stores that open on Thanksgiving Day can hardly say that they won’t show up for work because they value family and tradition over their needed paycheck. Some have tried and have been fired. (as in the Pizza Hut manager)
Is Black Friday shopping not enough that a new word is being introduced for shopping on Thanksgiving as “Grey Thursday”? ( It even has a sad and dismal sound to the name.) Just how sad may be told by the story below multiplied by thousands.
The national news carried a story of a woman who had taken her daughter on Thanksgiving Day to a store….waited for hours to be one of the first in line…and finally fed a “Thanksgiving?” lunch to her little girl in the car. Her comment to the reporter was “I am doing it for her.” Doing what? At her young age, she is learning that shopping is more important than anything on our special day of Thanks here in America. Sad, abusive, crazy, ridiculous, unthinking….could be a few words to describe this form of parenting.
I can remember years when I was a single parent, with little income as a teacher, going to garage sales, starting back around Halloween, and finding the best Christmas gifts to wrap and put under the tree for my three children to have on Christmas morning.( Of course, Grandparents made up for some nice things as well.) The children always seemed happy and appreciative with their gifts. We know that the Holy Scriptures tell us in Proverbs 22:6 ” Direct your children onto the right path,and when they are older, they will not leave it.” This is true for our 2013 Thanksgiving when 10 happy people held hands , giving a word of thankfulness, and eating together around a table, that I can now afford, and sharing this time together with family and friends. Handing down tradition takes time and years that are not to be wasted fighting crowds and materialism with children…or for them.
Taryn Luna, of the Boston Globe, wrote “More frequently, anti-Thanksgiving-shopping advocates are making their views known through social media networks. Jordana Bishop of Raynham started a Facebook group called “Boycott Shopping on Thanksgiving Day.” The group’s page plays off Santa’s “naughty or nice” list by assigning retailers to one of the two categories based on whether they plan to be open or shut. Bishop said people should realize that when they patronize stores early, it means workers stocking shelves and manning registers are losing out….”
What is all this doing to employees? Ellen Galinsky also writes, “As a society, we’ve agreed that most of America’s workforce should have key holidays — in this case just one day — to be with family and friends, or just to take a breather from work. Holidays are also up there with vacation days as critical to keeping employees healthy and productive, more so than ever. Our research at the Families and Work Institute shows that the nation’s workforce is more stressed than ever, increasing significantly in recent years. Nearly one-third (32%) of employees report that their work has a primarily negative impact on their lives off the job by draining energy, so they don’t have enough left over for their personal and family life. Our research also shows that those who take vacations and holidays return to work more energized and productive…”
We ask the question…What decision will Americans make to save Thanksgiving now and for future generations? It is a decision…and a big one. Our culture and our society hangs on the decision each family member makes. We are a nation worried about violence, mental illness, terrorism…and how we react to these things may be as simple as our thankfulness, values and instead of greed….appreciation for all the things we are blessed with in this country.
Again, we decide. Should we make a list of places to avoid and “shop elsewhere”? Call it a boycott, if one wants to do so. It is up to us…the people…
Here is a helpful list of stores to consider when shopping for your holiday gifts:
Major retailers that did not open on this Thanksgiving 2013, but encouraged employees to be with family, include:
- Burlington Coat Factory
- Barnes & Noble
- Home Depot
- Radio Shack
- Sam’s Club
- TJ Maxx
Stores that DID stay open on Thanksgiving…in case you want to “boycott”.
(compiled by Hayley Peterson | Business Insider ) Kmart, Big Lots, Ace Hardware, Family Dollar, Old Navy, Michaels, Toys R Us, Walmart, Best Buy, Macy’s Kohl’s, JC Penny, Sears, Belks, Office Max, Staples, Target, Dick’s sporting Goods.
(Some even stayed open 40+ hours starting on Thanksgiving) Overnight Scheduled stores: Belk, Best Buy, Costco, Dick’s Sporting Goods, GameStop, JC Penny, Kmart, Kohl’s, Macy’s, Old Navy, Office Max, Sears, Target, Toys Are Us, Walmart
There were some people who would have loved to be at a family dinner table on Thanksgiving. They would also be thankful just to be alive….our men and women in Afghanistan and around the world. A special meal is traditionally made for them where they are…and in some cases the officers serve the enlisted. Nothing…nothing would take the place of being with family…not even a mall.
……As I watched BLACK FRIDAY crowds on TV…not to mention the ones on Thanksgiving Day, my feelings were of amazement. I had questions:
- Did people get a rush out of being in huge crowds?
- Do people really save so much on these occasions that they wait all year for this big event?
- What does this say to the world…especially the parts of the world living in war…or hunger..about the people of the United States of America?
- Is it greed or have things become our God…or our other Master?
- How many of these people are on assistance from the government? (Your tax dollars and mine) Is a gigantic, flat-screen TV a necessity?
- Why would anyone pregnant go to such a riot? (And there were some that went to the hospital)
My questions were even magnified when I heard that in Tallahassee, Florida someone had actually followed a person who bought the last available item to the parking lot and shot the person. Stores had to beef up their security because of theft and the potential violence. At a Walmart store, the security guards wrestled a shoplifting suspect to the ground…with the person dying later. (This is under investigation. ) All of this is truly insane!
Maybe on-line shopping is not such a bad idea. Perhaps stores could close their doors for one day and ask customers to go on-line for the great deals. That way, we can sit in the quiet of our homes and ask the all-time great question….”Do I really need this?” It might help the panic buyers to be a little more careful. It would also give the over-worked employees, who missed their Thanksgiving dinner with family, a deserved break.
If you were ever tempted to go to the Malls on Black Friday in America….you may want to think again.
People of the United States, take a look at yourself. This, you won’t believe!!