22 April 2009

Sharing the American Way

I just don’t get it. According to a USA Today article on charitable giving, Sharing by the numbers in the USA, more Americans say they are giving more to charity despite the bad economy and record unemployment. That article lifted my spirits today; it makes me feel good, knowing there are people out there who care about their fellow man enough to donate money and/or time to help the less fortunate. We, as Americans, are probably the most generous people when it comes to charities.

Then I looked at the map provided by USA Today and was dismayed, but not surprised, at what I saw. Now most of you know I am not a fan of organized religion. I have ranted against so-called “Christians” rather loudly because they are usually acting in ways that are anything but Christ-like.

Take, for instance, my state of residence, Mississippi and compare to, say, Vermont. One person in particular posted a comment that read like a child’s tantrum, “We gave more than they did. We’re better than them!” I guess what the poster was trying to point out is he thinks Vermont is full of “bleeding-heart liberals” yet the people in Tennessee gave more money to charity than the “liberals”. That is true, until you look at the Time portion of the map where Vermont gave much more of their time than Tennessee.

We could sit here and argue all day about what is more important, money or time, but that takes me away from what I want to say about Mississippi. According to the map, Mississippi gave on average less than $1500 per household and less than 27% of the population of Mississippi gave their time to charity. Now when it comes to giving money, Mississippi is ranked near the bottom in terms of the wealth of its residents. That may explain why so little money was given. The thing that gets me is less than 27% of Mississippi’s population donated their time. Got that? Less than 27% of the good, Bible-thumpin, holier-than-thou “Christians” in Mississippi cared enough about those in need to volunteer their time to help.

Don’t get me wrong here; I am not excluding myself from this criticism. I am just as guilty of not giving more of my time. I gave plenty of my time when we were in Virginia Beach and active in the Elk’s Lodge but down here in Mississippi I just can’t seem to find the time. I’ve got projects in my garage backing up, my house needs maintenance work done and there just doesn’t seem to be enough time in the day. I can sit here and make these excuses but there really is nothing I can say to justify why I don’t volunteer my time more often.

The BIG difference is, I don’t walk around making sure everybody around me knows what church I go to, how often I go or how great a Christian I am. I don’t profess to be a good Christian and then gossip about my neighbors, or tell gays they can’t fall in love and get married, or tell a woman she must submit to a man, or tell that woman she has no choice but to have that baby. I don’t toot my own horn like the Pharisees did in Jesus’ time…and you do remember what Jesus told those Pharisees, don’t you?

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