Those flush with green should not be targeted by those green with envy
Posted: Sunday, December 23, 2012 3:49 pm
By: By Glenda Caudle
The Messenger 12.21.12
I like people who have more money than I do. At least, the ones around here.
Maybe people with more green stuff than they can use to meet their own needs behave differently in other places, but in this part of the country, they tend to share.
Thanks to people who have worked hard, applied their time, talent and resources and succeeded in worldly terms, we can point to some pretty nice perks in our community.
If we enjoy the beauty and facilities available in the Obion County Public Library, there are a couple of families we can thank for making that possible.
If we’re glad that literally hundreds of preschool children have received scholarships to attend values-directed programs that prepare them to start out on an equal footing with their peers when kindergarten rolls around, we can be appreciative of a financially successful someone who saw a need and responded.
If we’ve talked to a young person who might never have moved far beyond these geographical boundaries but now has seen the world from a European perspective, it’s because of the generosity of those who quietly paid for the journey with an anonymously written check.
When we drive down Everett Boulevard, if our attention is captured by the futuristic building with the impressive tower rising from the geometrically challenging roof line and the other interesting features dotting the 50-acre landscape known as Discovery Park of America, we know that it would not be there to educate our children, attract tourists who will spend money in local businesses and provide jobs for local residents were it not for someone who succeeded in business and then shared the proceeds.
As graduation rolls around, seniors from area high schools can grasp the dream of a higher education because someone with resources offered to help pay for several rungs on their success ladder.
Children throughout the community benefit because there is a club that offers them a safe place to play and study after school and during the summer. Without the support of people who have worked hard and done well for themselves, the doors would never have opened and certainly would not continue to still swing wide to let children and youth enter.
Children in our part of this vast nation get a free high-quality book each month for the first five years of their lives because someone with a healthy bank account got the ball rolling.
These perks are obvious and easily documented, but there are countless other stories I could tell you about the things people of means contribute to this place we call home, if only the donors would let me boast on their behalf. Many of them are reluctant to call attention to their generosity, however. There are secret Santas amongst us.
These are certainly not the only generous souls. I could also relate narratives featuring folks with far fewer resources who still manage to give of what they have for the sake of others. The elderly and lonely are fed because of such compassion in one instance I know about. Children get warm coats and school supplies and food to tide them through weekends when the cupboard is bare at home or the adults in their lives are too distracted to provide a meal because people with more and people with just enough and people with not quite that much even are moved to share what is there.
Generosity springs from many wells of motivation and clearly is not dependent on vast resources. The impetus to help and the vastness of the resources to do so are immaterial to me. I’m just grateful for those who do, whether they give from deep pockets or simply add the two pennies that represent sacrifice on their part. The gifts of each and of all are precious when they meet real need.
So I’m saddened that politicians find it necessary to paint people I — and each of you — have reason to be grateful to as evil and selfish and prime targets for envy and anger for the purpose of benefiting themselves at the ballot box. It is a sad thing when people with a yearning for power try to lay hold on it by turning citizens against each other.
There is no one-size-fits-all pronouncement that can be made about either the very wealthy or the very poor — or those in between. People are far more complex than their bank balances can account for. But when it comes to relating to each other and deciding what is fair and what is accurate, there are some things we ought to think about.
• People should be neither praised nor condemned based on either their resources or their lack of them.
• Seizing even 100 percent of the assets of the “wealthy” in this nation would enable the government to pay the enormous bills politicians have run up — often with our blessing — for less than a third of 2013’s 12 months, so it stands to reason that increasing their tax brackets by a few percentage points is not going to solve the financial mess we are in. Any politician who doesn’t know that is too stupid to be holding elected office. Any politician who knows it, but pretends otherwise, is too dishonest.
• No matter what political system is in place, there must be a source for financing it. If those contributing the most are not only vilified but punished for not giving more, can we seriously expect them to continue to make what they have worked for readily available to those who have not been quite so diligent — or even to continue to work for it? And, please, before anyone rushes in to berate me for condemning the poor, I am well aware that not all who consume, rather than produce, are capable of caring for themselves, and I know there are many good people who must rely on others for reasons of health or age or temporary inability to perform as they would like. My religious faith tells me how I should relate to them. It is with an open hand and caring heart. I pray I will always rise to that directive. But I can be neither surprised nor critical if those with resources decide not only to stop trying to fill a bottomless and thoroughly rapacious government trough but also to begin to take a second look at gifts they have been in the habit of bestowing privately on their neighbors.
• If politicians continue to build their power base by inciting greed and fostering dependency and encouraging sloth rather than industry, it is foolish to expect a new generation of hard-working, successful, philanthropic citizens to arise. Instead, the number of government-encouraged malcontents with a hand stretched out toward Washington and a bitter eye cast on their more prosperous neighbors will grow, but there will be no resources to promise them, because there will be no productive citizens providing them. It doesn’t take a genius to figure that out. It’s simple common sense.
So I’ll say it again: I like people who have more money than I do. But it’s getting harder and harder for me to respect those who are envious of that or to vote for those who encourage that negative and destructive emotion.
In this season of giving, let’s think carefully about what our lives would be like if the more prosperous among us suddenly disappeared. And let’s pledge ourselves — no matter what our own resources — to sharing more food for the body with those who truly need it and more food for the heart with people from every walk of life. Think of it as having learned something from One, born in the humblest of circumstances, who gave everything.
Merry Christmas — wrapped in peace, joy and real love — to people of great means, to people of none at all and to everyone in between.
Mrs. Caudle may be contacted at glendacaudle @ucmessenger.com.