A LOVE SUPREME

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Thursday, December 14, 2006

Altruism

It's that time of year again! Charities and non-profit organizations are all bidding for your giving dollars. There will be mass mailings, phone calls, pledge drives, bells and buckets, and offering plates....Gadzooks that's a lot!

But most of us want to help the less fortunate, don't we??? The question is what and who to give our time, energy, and dollars to. I, for one, despise giving just to make myself feel good. I also despise guilt trips and organizations that use guilt as a motivation for giving. Usually these charities have a sort of tunnel vision: My charity is the mostest importantest in the whole wide world! And so if you fail to give to my charity, then you've failed the entire human race.

Ok, fine! I understand you care about your charity project. That's all good. But there are a lot of problems in the world. It's a dark place. We've got hunger, sickness and disease, poverty, abuse, aids and cancer, environmental issues, wars, criminal governments, natural disasters like crazy, broken homes, broken spirits, hate and violence, racism and bigotry, and on top of it all there is a general sense of malice towards one's neighbor.

It's amazing how the Christmas season brings to the forefront the best and worst of humanity. The light and the darkness. The world is a dark place, and each of us only has a little bit of light to make a difference. It is the holiday season that seems to bring out the desire to bring light to the darkness. We want the world to be better. Or at least to appear better for a period of time. "The holidays," it is said, "are no time for a family to go hungry." But somehow every other day of the year is ok???

Why is it that we want so badly for the Christmas time to be full of light and hope? Why is it that we want to see peace on earth and goodwill to men? What drives our culture to put their best foot forward at Christmas?

3 comments:

Dawn said...

I think the reason is 'cause it's the end of the year and no one wants to start the new year being the jerk they were all year long. :)

Melody said...

1. We're getting a whole lot of stuff around Christmas...so it seems pretty mean spirited not to give to people who actually need to be given something.

2. And over abundance of sappy songs on the radio (like the Christmas Shoes song, which incidentally is used as a scam to rip off affluent - but sappy - people around Christmas).

3. Good marketing. We hear everywhere that, that is how we're suppose to feel.

4. Precident. It's Mr. Nicholas' fault. He started it with his silly dropping money in girl's socks so they could afford to be married. It's all been down hill from there.

But there is some merit to people saying it's worse for a family to be hungry during the holidays. Everything is worse during the holidays (hence the high suicide/depression rate). If you're starving the holidays are only going to make you feel even more pathetic and misrable.

And I think people are trying to recapture what Christmas is all about. It is a time of hope, because of the birth of Christ. But people who don't identify with that or who find it old hat need something else to try and fill that void.

Some of us just like shopping...even if it's for people we don't know.

Jonathan Erdman said...

Very good comments.

Interesting that during the holidays we do try to make up for lost time - or for all the bad things we did during the year.....it is also very much a cultural thing as well: the marketing, the songs, the commercials, the expectations of society...I can see that....And I also can see that being at rock bottom in your life during the holidays can seem even worse because this is the time that you are expected to be happy and jolly. So, giving people a pick-me-up seems as thought it would definitely be more appreciated.....