Archive for the ‘Bloggity Goodness’ Category

Changing Gears…

12 June 2006

Ginmar's post tonight is the most thought-provoking thing I've read in a while. To wit:

"Treating people as human is not optional. If you don't do that, you yourself are not human. " 

"You recognize the luxury you live in, but then what? It's easy to make some people villains. It's not so easy when the villain is yourself, and when the villainy consists of blindness."

"What is a government for but to protect its people? If the most vulnerable are left without assitance, can one be surprised when their desperation makes them do desperate things? "

"Since when did doing good become a question of merely avoiding harm? Since when is not being actively evil the definition of a good person?" 

 "If we're human, don't we have the responisibility to be humane?"

I certainly don't have an answer to her dilemma. I come from a long line of people whose ethos is defined by serving others. I helped built a shelter/home/turnaround facility for the homeless as part of my Eagle Scout project and also as a summer thing when I was home after my first year at Georgetown. Nevertheless, I still lead a life of hideous privilege compared to most people in the world and a hell of a lot of people in the United States.

 Story time: Several years ago, my aunt was into Beanie Babies. They were the hot item to collect, and many places used them in promotions for business. McDonald's had mini-Beanies that came with Happy Meals, and to collect the whole set, my aunt (usually with Ma and I along for the ride), would buy a ton of happy meals just for the mini-Beanies. Of course, that meant we had got a car full of food that we didn't want and didn't need. Because it was the best thing we could think of to do, we took it to the homeless people that congregate in a local park. They were amazed and more than a little grateful for the bounty of cheeseburgers and fries we deposited upon them. But, something like that doesn't even begin to approach charity: we were entertaining a selfish, materialistic desire and had some small bit of consideration that led to us passing out McD's bags. And that was more than any of them had any hope to expect. And, on the continuum of charity, what we did is a lot more than most Americans would. When I suggested that Dad bring an entire uneaten turkey from Thanksgiving 2002 (we had made two) to a homeless shelter, you'd've thought I suggested we invite them in for a Wild Turkey on the rocks and an orgy.

This is an issue that, although most people have some consciousness of the severity, we easily and routinely put out of our minds. I get irritated that my summer hours, and therefore my paycheck, are cut in half, when on the grand scheme of things I have no need for the money. Our government spends billions at the blink of an eye on crap that will mostly line the pockets of GOP contributors, but balks at parting with a buck to help people for whom that buck would make the difference between eating something and going hungry again.

How is it that we put human need aside to appease petty desires? How can any of us who know where our next meal is coming from stand to stockpile goods in our homes when even a small bit of it, given by each person, could easily end hunger here and abroad? What can we do to change it that's not just taking a few grains of sand off the beach?

Things that are going to keep me awake as I lay my head on a down pillow and wait for the RAZR cell phone to awaken me so I can drive my car to my academic job overlooking the ocean.