They told me that the theme for this month’s blog (I prefer column because it makes me feel like I work at the Daily Planet) was “philanthropy. ” I, of course, pointed out that stamp collecting was probably not of general interest to our audience. After much confusion and angst, we got that sorted, and I looked up quotes on charity and found this:
“Carve your name on hearts, not tombstones. A legacy is etched into the minds of others and the stories they share about you. ” ― Shannon Alder.
I didn’t have a clue who Shannon Alder was when I read this, so I did a little internet research. I found she has a website that enabled me to quickly surmise that if I did know her, I would find her to be the most inspirational and admirable person I know or completely insufferable. Perhaps (a euphemism for “likely”) both. None of that is important for today’s purposes, however, so let’s assume her quote is meant to be taken figuratively and be inspired. All my sardonic (half-) -wit humor aside, I do think she has a great idea – if your goal in life, or just the day, is to leave a lasting impression (we are talking a positive impression here) the place to do so in the hearts of people in need.
This just in: all people everywhere, yea every single one of them, is in need in some way or another.
Charity, which some say begins at home (that seems to be one of those properly ambiguous homilies that you can fit to most any situation of your choosing) really begins in our heart, which, of course, is driven by our thoughts and subsequent choices.
Charity, therefore, begins with a thought (I once had a girlfriend that took to calling me “Mr. Over-Analyzer” before she gave me the permanent heave-ho) and I gotta tell ya, it’s hard for me to know what to think in this old world.
Those people at the stop signs with the cardboard signs? I used to give them money because I used to care for a family member that spent some time in mental health facilities, which caused me get to know a few of those folks that lived on the streets. The folks I met typically raised enough money in a few hours for a sandwich and some milk at the mini-mart, plus their daily dose of street drugs (not necessarily in that order), and that was it for their work day.
I decided this resulted in us having a boss/employee relationship, and it was (theoretically) my responsibility to pay them two bucks a go when it wouldn’t cause traffic problems. I also did it because I hoped someone would give my family members a few bucks if/when they were living under a bridge. That relative taught me a lot about giving and not subsidizing. A book, not a blog nor a column, that.
I am, as you surely know without being told, a complete believer in the idea of “if you want more of something, subsidize it. ”
Clearly, by anecdotal knowledge gleaned from the drive to and fro, we’ve created a subculture consisting of people of various and unknown levels of need and/or greed that will soon populate all four corners of every intersection in North America. This is not the result I hoped for when I gave out my two dollars (pre-covid, fed-inflated dollars). It’s hard to know what to think.
I am a church-goer and tithe begrudgingly (a bit of honest candor I felt compelled to provide), but regardless of one’s religious beliefs or abhorrence thereof, I think giving away 10% of your income is a reasonable yardstick to start one’s thinking on monetary giving. More or less?
That’s your heart’s job, not my rulebook.
Where do I give?
Well, I’ve already implied that I give to the church, but I do not give a tenth of my income to the local church, because I think the legalists out there need a good swift punch in the snoot or kick in the patookus. I give where the heart dictates, doesn’t everyone? If the heart doesn’t motivate me, I don’t consider it giving…and yes, I’m looking at you Internal Revenue Service.
One of my personal passions is providing for a basic need of all humanity: food. I give some dollars each year to Samaritan’s Purse, World Central Kitchen, and Action Against Hunger. This is not an endorsement; this is an example of places that help others beyond my own physical reach. Read about ‘em, and then go do what you want.
But here’s the biggest thing I’m trying to do. I’m trying to be nice. People irritate me. What, this is not news to you? In my defense, it’s not all people. I love people that are kind, that are smart, that are interesting. It’s the stupid, rude and cruel people that get my gears in a grind. Oh wait, that’s not charity (“philanthropy” if you prefer) if it’s that easy. It’s charitable when it’s given without repayment.
So, there it is. I am resolved to be nice. Then to act, to give, then give a bit more. So, I do know what to think, after all. Now I just have to do it. Help me with that, will ya?