20 September

Portrait Ali: Good Man, Pious Man. The Anti-Cynic

by Jon Katz
Pious Man, Good Man

I have never trusted or strangers who call me sweetheart, they seem inherently fake to me, a little slimy and this morning, a message from aaefxc@outlook.com helped me understand why:

Sweetheart, you do not sponsor the soccer team–your so-called “Army of good” does. There is not a thing you do that you claim as an act of kindness (and often, strangely, Christianity) that doesn’t depend on other peoples’ money.” – aaefxc@outlook.com.

Oscar Wilde wrote that a cynic is a person who knows the price of everything, and the value of nothing.

Cynicism is the faith and currency of our times, and our political system. Social media is the cynic’s church, it has never been easier in all the history of the world to be cruel or sneer at others.  George Carlin wrote that if you scratch the surface of a cynic, you will find a broken-hearted idealist. I think this is so.

I have so many flaws but I have no hatred in my heart for anyone, even people who send me messages like this. I wish what she wrote was true. I wish I had more money.

There are so many times when the soccer team or Mansion residents need something and there is no time to ask for help from the outside. Of course I spent my own money, and all the time.

I am shy about writing about those times, it seems self-serving, but I am well aware that there are people like aaefxc out there, sitting in the dark next to their computer screens or peering into their smart phones seething. I like to bring them out into the light.  She is why I keep receipts, I have boxes full of them.

And I am obsessive about crediting the Army Of Good, as anyone who reads the blog will know. I even bought bumper stickers for them.

I mention them every time I wrote about our good works. They make all of this work.

But Ali has chosen me to be the sponsor of the Albany Warriors Soccer Team and I am proud and happy to have that title. And I take it seriously, seven days a week, 24 hours a day. I am even happier to have the Army Of Good behind me, we’ve bought a lot of soccer balls and shoes. I doubt that aaexc got that far.

Ali is  a good man, there is not a drop of the cynic in him. He is the anti-cynic, perhaps a reason it is so good to work with him. Even he mentions the Army Of Good in every video.

I have spent a lot of my money along with the Army Of Good, contributions often come up short, although I could never come close to doing what I do without the support of these people, so I suppose in a sense she is right (and why do I know this is a she?

I do think these works are acts of kindness, and I do evoke Christianity for sure.

Last week, I was reading the spiritual author Henry Nouwen about forgiveness, he was writing about Christ on the cross.  It is said that a person’s final words are often taken to have particular significance, even if you are not considered to be the son of God. Christ asked for forgiveness for his betrayers and murderers.

I am no Christ.

I am sadly not that evolved, but I’ve always leaned towards the more earthly St.  Francis, who advised us to become friends with the  angels. The deeds you do may be the only sermon some person will hear today, he wrote.

He who works with his hands is a laborer, he wrote, “he who works with his hands and his head is a craftsman, he who works with his hands and his head and his heart is an artist.”

And what is he or she who uses a computer to send out false and poisonous messages to the world?

A cynic would be the nicest term.

I am a cynic, and have always been a cynic, and so in aaefxc, I recognize a fellow cynic, a disappointed human. It is hard sometimes not to look through the world through a veil of poison and suspicion. We are disappointed and betrayed so often, that is part of being human.

it is often hard for to imagine that anyone – from St. Francis to Mandela Mother Teresa – weren’t calculating or self-serving in their good words.

And you know what. They probably were to one degree or another?

I have always known the work I do is selfish – I do it because it makes me feel good and helps me to heal and keeps me from writing messages to people like aaefxc does.

Like every other bad thing, cynicism is an opportunity. When we rise above our anger and suspicion with the intent to reveal light and bring it into the world, positive energy envelops us and spreads out into the world. Is isn’t about falling down, it’s about getting up.


  1. Jon, don’t let one person’s drop of poison ruin the ocean of goodness you do with the help of others. I find it sad that you have to explain yourself to someone so filled with bitterness.

    1. Thanks Sandy, but I think it is important to explain myself, I am committed to being transparent,and sharing the bad as well as the good…It seems the healthiest approach to me..She has a right to be heard…

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