I Really Cared About You — Last Week

The holidays are over, and now it’s back to business as usual. It’s time once again for segments of our population to regard economic assistance to the poor as a socialistic welfare scheme that reduces self-esteem on the part of the recipients, teaches them to be indolent and dependent on hand-outs, and confiscates the discretionary income of people who are already taxed nearly to death.

Now, last week was different. There was a spirit of generosity in the air. Toy and food collections were omnipresent. Bell-ringers graced the sidewalks of a thousand grocery stores. One local businessman and his partners brought more than 100 families together in a shopping center parking lot, handed out turkey dinners and gift cards to local merchants, and even brought in Santa Claus via helicopter.

I was there (no, not as a recipient, but as a representative of a participating non-profit agency that helped identify deserving families). Nobody I talked to expressed any concern that such giveaways would have a negative impact on the beneficiaries’ self-esteem. What I observed was quite the contrary — people seemed exceptionally appreciative of being considered “special,” if only for a few hours. Some of them returned, immediately after the event, to their jobs paying little more than minimum wage. One such person, a grandmother whose son was incarcerated and who had taken in her grandchildren to care for them, looked forward to cooking them a nice meal and putting a present or two (probably clothes) under the Christmas tree.

I have mixed feelings about all this holiday cheer. On the one hand, I feel it’s somewhat hypocritical to claim to really care about people but oppose funding for a well-designed welfare program that keeps the unemployed out of abject poverty until they get back on their feet. On the other hand, maybe caring about less fortunate people about 2% of the time (1 week out of 52) is better than nothing. Sometimes, feeling special for a few hours gives you hope that life will eventually get a little easier.

Happy New Year, everyone! And please don’t wait for Christmas 2010 to exhibit your generous spirit.

Ron Wolff

Ronald Wolff publishes the blog Musings from Claremont, where this article first appeared. Republished with permission.

Published by the LA Progressive on January 6, 2010
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
About Ron Wolff

Ronald Wolff, Psy.D., has been writing intermittently since childhood. He has authored an unbelievably amateur first novel (“Unintended Consequences”), a political thriller centering on preservation of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights (“Operation Capitol Hill”), and a number of literary short stories (“The Magic Pill” and “The Cellist”). In his “spare time,” he serves as President/CEO of a non-profit agency serving adults with disabilities. Inspired by his background reading for “Operation Capitol Hill,” Ron is now researching and writing a non-fiction “sequel,” tentatively entitled “I Pledge Allegiance: To What? The Paradox of ‘Me’.” It’s a massive project intended to ask the following questions: How well is this country doing in achieving the fundamental goals outlined in its founding documents? To the extent that achievement falls short of potential, what barriers exist? How, if at all, can these barriers be mitigated or overcome? Ron lives in Claremont with his dog Angel. He texts but does not tweet. Should you be so motivated, write him at OpCapitolHill@aol.com.