An Open Letter to "President" Summers

Yesterday in my post about speaking for St. Ben's Community Meal, I used a picture that was taken from another website. People do take my pics all the time, I don't stress about it. Within hours of posting, I received this email:
Mr. Martinez,

FYI, you cannot simply go around the internet and take copyrighted pictures form anyone’s website and use them on your own. The image you use in this post was copied from my website, .

I own the reproduction rights to this image and the copyright by law. Please remove it from your website immediately.

(Signed) Jeffrey Summers, President
This is my response:

Mr. Summers:

Your email is filled with a great sense of irony, so much so that it seems almost prophetic. A marketing guru attempting to admonish a religious brother on the question of what is "right." I don't claim to be of a higher authority, but if you'd read my profile, you'd know that we have (had) similar career paths.

I have spent my own time equating success with wealth and money. I've read my share of Og Mandino, Zig Ziglar, Harvey MacKay, and Joe Verde to focus on car sales. I grew up in Grand Rapids, a city where half the population tries to sell the other on the Amway (Quixtar) program, so everyone can be "independently wealthy." I've met hundreds of gurus, writers, speakers, internet sites, and magazines all trying sell the same thing: "If you do exactly what I say and exactly how I tell you, you can be successful." It's the same solution every salesman offers.

Perhaps the "real world solution" that should be offered is the plain truth: "No amount of money will make you happy if you're not happy with your life." You won't sell as many audio CD's and it might cut down on the number of paid seminars you get invited to, but you'd be doing people a favor instead of teaching them to keep pursuing money in hopes of finding a false happiness.

In all seriousness, I do apologize for leeching your bandwidth in use of the previously stated picture on my blog. It would be better for me to have simply copied and uploaded it directly. For that I recognize and accept my error in judgment.

As for the use of the picture in my articulation of working at a soup kitchen, I have removed it because it has served it's purpose. Many times I talk about how people focus on themselves, without actually giving thought to the homeless and poor. Having renounced all sense of personal property as a Capuchin, I sometimes forget that people still think in individualistic terms. Your email has served as a greater image of what I do at St. Ben's Community Meal than any photo ever could....challenging people on what they think society and success should be.

Perhaps the greater irony is that we are both speakers of the same topic: feeding others. The difference is that you choose to focus on how to keep making money in a declining economy, and I talk about how to keep feeding hungry families in the same milieu.

In closing, I want to thank you for your email, even if your purpose was not to initiate such a huge response. You have given me a glimpse of a past life I happily gave up, and this has shown me how much my life has changed in the last 2.5 years. I'm sure you are a good man who loves his family and works hard for those he loves. My current work with the poor and marginalized has given me a glimpse of what is important in life, and I refuse to compare the taking of a picture to the other injustices I see every day. I pray you may see my point of view.

Peace and all good to you and your family,

Br. Vito Martinez, OFM Cap Post.
St. Joseph Province of Capuchin Franciscans

Jeffrey Summers is the President of Restaurant Coaching Solutions, an online marketing expert for people looking to become more successful in the restaurant business. If you're interested in learning more, you can go to his website...or if you ask nice I'll give you his cell number~.

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