We get our fair share of solicitors at our door asking for support, usually monetary, for many different causes. Sometimes I listen for a little while and sometimes I ask them to cut to the chase and tell me what they want from me. If it is a signature on a petition, I usually oblige. I draw the line at giving money. Not because I don’t trust them nor because I don’t believe their cause is worthy. It is because I have my own causes I like to donate to and we only have so much money in the budget to contribute. This is usually enough to satisfy the solicitor and we part on friendly terms. I know they are headed to a neighbor and it is very possible they will get money towards their cause.
Here is my question: should I be angry at my neighbor for giving money to a cause that I didn’t donate to?
I am confident you answered no. I am also confident you all have your favorite charities you donate to throughout the year. Lastly, I am confident you are judicious about how much you contribute. This leads to my bigger thought for this week. The government is a gigantic donor to many different causes. Granted it fails in many ways to be as fiscally responsible as we are with our budgets, but I do not expect the government to decide if one worthy cause is more important than another. Which is why I get upset when people start comparing government supported programs and try to convince me that one is better than another. For example, providing money to help preserve a natural habitat is no less worthy than helping subsidize daycare. Helping veterans through outreach programs is as important as funding research to find a cure for cancer. Or Alzheimers. Or Parkinson's. Figuring out how to provide health care to all Americans is a priority as much as helping out-of-work people find a job.
Now I have two questions. Why do so many Americans judge and dislike me because I have different priorities? Why does it have to be either/or?
Of course I feel the government can be a giant bureaucratic nightmare where money pours in from taxes and disappears into heaven knows where. And there are people who will milk the system, either within the government or out. Yes, there are problems. But I also feel, as citizens, it is up to us to help each other. Whether by being involved on a personal level or understanding we need government to help those of us who need a hand. Retreating into an attitude of me first will only make me look selfish and mean-spirited. This is a belief I hold about helping a neighbor or wanting my country to help global neighbors.
Yesterday was Veteran’s Day. The perfect time to reflect on what happens when hate and fear of people with different beliefs and priorities take over.