Who's keeping score?
Minor MusingsGrowing up in the U.S., there's one skill we all learn early on that's vital to our "happiness," but that no one ever talks about. It's the ability to see tragedy in progress, yet walk away and do nothing, or do something begrudgingly and for all the wrong reasons.
Published: October 4, 2009
Published: October 4, 2009
We all know that thousands of children, orphaned by war, are starving to death in Darfur. We've seen them on the news - big empty eyes, toothpick arms, and bloated bellies. Yet somehow we click off our consciences right along with our TVs.
We all know that there are thousands of American children growing up in institutions or in successions of inadequate foster homes after repeated abandonments by their crack head parents. While those children recycle through the system, we recycle the newspapers that tell us about them, and congratulate ourselves for helping to "save the planet."
We all know that there are thousands of elderly Americans, lonely and sick or disabled, many living in our neighborhoods, in houses crumbling from neglect, or in nursing homes where no one ever visits. We drive by every day and wonder why the city doesn't do something about the tall grass and trashy yards around those houses. And we complain to the county commission about the choice to put a group home or halfway house in our neighborhood.
We "donate" our used furniture, appliances, household goods, and clothes to the ARC Resale Store, Habitat for Humanity, or Salvation Army. But, in truth, we're just using those stores as convenient places to abandon the leftovers from our last garage sale.
We don't donate to charities till they use a large portion of what they collect to entertain us with fun and games at the annual Relay for Life, Red and White Ball, or Charity Concert. We give to United Way mostly to impress our employers or because it's the convenient way to keep all those community organizations from knocking on our doors to collect donations.
We join the Rotary Club or Lions or Kiwanis and "serve" our community, not because we really care, but because it's a necessary "step" on the corporate ladder to success. Politicians and proletariat alike, go to church, not to worship, nor to confess our sins, but to be "seen" going to church. For far too many, it's all about image and reputation, not about God and soul searching.
When do we get real? When do we examine our motives? The only giving that truly matters is giving with no selfish agenda. Then, and only then, does it do as much for us as for the people we help.
When we take a plate of brownies to a shut-in neighbor, or mow the lawn of the single mother next door, we show our own children what giving means. When the U.S. government sends our tax dollars to the Philippines to rescue flood victims or to China to rebuild after an earthquake, we know we'll never get tit for tat. That's how we show the world that ethnic and political differences don't matter. People do.
When I was a little girl my grandfather ran a shoe repair shop out of his garage. He barely made enough money to feed himself and my grandmother, yet many times I saw him resole a kid's shoes or repair a lady's purse strap for free because he knew they couldn't pay. And I saw those same people come back again, and again, because they knew he wouldn't charge them and he wouldn't embarrass them either.
One day I said, "Grandpa, don't you see that they're taking advantage of you?" But Grandpa just smiled, "Yes, I see, and so does God. He keeps a tally so I don't have to."
This old world needs a lot more Grandpas.