Have you ever done something you felt good about? Like, hey, maybe you gave money to save a kitten from the wrath of Alice. And then someone else comes along and says, “Well, you know, those kittens misuse those funds. Just the other day, I saw a kitten with a brand new catnip toy.” It’s like you had this cool new balloon and someone just went and stuck a pin in it. Cause you know, balloons will just deflate anyway, right? Look how they helped you out there!
I’ve had this experience a lot of times. In case you didn’t know, I’m generally a very cheap person. There’s a reason for this. I’m also a fairly poor person, so the cheapness thing really works well there. But sometimes I try to give to a good cause. When I was a kid, I liked giving to the Angel Tree fund. You’d pick an angel off the tree with the name of some kid who needed new clothes. And you bought the clothes and wrapped them up and gave them to the Salvation Army people, and then those guys gave them to the ones in need. Some kid got new clothes! Yay, me, I helped.
At least I thought I did, until one day a friend told me, “Well, you know, they return those clothes and then use the money on something else. Like watches.” Like, ZOMG, really? That’s horrible! They took money I freely gave, not expecting anything in return, and. . . and. . . they bought a new watch? Holy crapsters! Poor people don’t need to know what time it is! All they gotta do is sit back and watch the welfare checks pour in.
Oh, yeah, cause that’s the life, you know. Here’s a secret. I took government “hand-outs” once. It was for purely selfish reasons. I wanted to feed my kids. I know, right? I was proud, and I didn’t like going to those appointments on the “bad side of town.” It sure as heck wasn’t convenient. You had to have documentation, and you had to bring your kid to get her finger pricked (Four-year-old Thing One yelled “My haaaand, my haaaand” when they pricked hers), and sometimes you were there for hours. But I was at home with my kids then, because I felt that was the best place for me to be. Oh, yeah, and because if I’d had a job, the salary would have all gone to daycare. That too.
But, Alice, if you didn’t have enough money, you shouldn’t have had children! It’s your own fault! Maybe it was my fault. But it wasn’t their fault. So I sucked it up, and I got a card for food, and I bought government juice and cheese and eggs. One day I had a cart loaded with the stuff, and saw the lady behind me watching. I felt embarrassed until she said, “I’m glad my money goes to help sweet little families like yours.”
That comment cost her nothing. But it made me cry. She could have looked at it an entirely different way. She could have poked a hole in my already partially deflated balloon. But she saw it another way. She saw giving the way I see it. I work full-time now. My kids are older. We are hardly rolling in dough, but we can get by, so even though it might smart a little, I’m glad the government takes money out of my check. Because once I needed that little bit of help, and now others need it. Believe me, very few people are getting rich off of handouts. If they are, I have to commend them. Those panhandlers stand there day after day, asking everyone who comes by for a dime. I figure they earn their money at least as well as most people with office jobs do, especially when roughly 80 percent of their time is spent facebooking.
Not that I know anyone who does that.
People are going to judge, no matter what. I know people might have wondered how someone who needed help buying groceries could afford a decent car. What they didn’t know was that my bleeding heart liberal parents sold it to me well below cost. And I spent my tax return on it. My parents have worked hard their entire lives. No one gave them help. They put themselves through college. They worked, they saved. But my father said, “I worked hard, and no one helped me. So I want to use my check to help other people. That’s how it is supposed to work.”
That’s how it is supposed to work. Isn’t that what most religions talk about? Tis better to give than to receive? I know Jesus was totally out there going, hey, hey, wait a second, where’s my take? Here I go and give you guys a fish dinner, and do I get anything? Well, see if I help you jerks out anymore!
Yeah, no, he just gave to people. And he didn’t check their credentials first. He didn’t go, “Hey, stop stoning that lady! She . . . oh, wait, she’s a prostitute. Go on ahead. Don’t mind me!” He helped her. He helped lepers. When a man asked how he could get to Heaven, Jesus said, “Give all your money to the poor, and follow me.” And yet, I see so many religious people who oppose welfare and government programs for the poor. Guess what? Jesus wrote me, and he thinks you guys who vote against that stuff suck.
Not really, Jesus wouldn’t do that. He’s too nice. But I’m not. If you never, ever help anyone without expecting something in return, you suck. If you gripe when people raise money to help out someone in need, you suck. Once you give, you give. It is no longer in your hands. They can do with it what they will. What they do has no effect on what you did. You still gave of yourself. You still did the right thing.
For what else are we on this planet for, if not to help one another?