Hunger. Homelessness. Unemployment. Sickness. Poverty.
This is the grim reality that millions of Americans might face as I sit down to write this post. I admit I am one of the luckier ones and grateful to have more than enough. But we have witnessed a terrible reality, a few days after Christmas.
A Time for Giving
It is really very ironic that it is the most wonderful time of the year and yet, a huge swath of people have not received enough. The prospect of losing everything is on the horizon because they have not been given enough in a timely manner.
I know from experience that sometimes it is not enough just to receive. Sometimes receiving at the right time is equally important. Let’s face it. Anyone who has paid bills and has struggled with a tight budget knows that deadlines are as crucial as the actual paying of the bill.
Evictions, car repossessions, food insecurity for days on end, deal a crushing blow to anyone’s spirit. This is what millions are facing right now. They might be behind on bill payments for months already. Because the timing of the gift is all wrong. Too little might come too late.
For years, I have held the view that real charity and giving is about the recipient and not the giver. What do I mean by this? I mean that true generosity and charitableness is as quiet and unassuming a trait as one can get. And I have met so many of these charitable angels in my life. They are good people.
The last thing a recipient needs is to feel shame for accepting help. The recipient might not want everyone to know that he had to be helped. It is hard enough to feel that one has ‘failed’ and somehow needs help. This feeling can hurt as much as not having enough.
But this is the age of attention-seeking, self-aggrandizement with a side of pure vanity. Is charity Instagram-worthy? Only if people can post their visit to some poverty-ridden place and capture their ‘Mother Teresa’ moments in an ethereal-themed filter. Where is that halo filter when you need it?
I honestly have no patience for anyone who says that a person is poor because they have not worked hard enough. At this point in time, Covid-19 has brought us to our knees. The thing is, even now, people who have always been quietly charitable, continue to give.
But more needs to be done. More needs to be given by the wealthy. More needs to be done by those who have the power and the means. Those who have been appointed and elected to manage the needs of the people must do something. More needs to be done by those who get paid a lot to serve the public and the citizenry. The key word here is ‘serve’. ‘Service’ implies selflessness and acts that put others before self.
It is a poor excuse to say that there isn’t enough to feed the hungry, help the sick, provide shelter and help the less fortunate. It is especially offensive to make these claims at a time of year when many of us celebrate the birth of a baby born in very humble circumstances. He, who many people view as a savior, would one day precisely preach things like charity, compassion and service.
This man, who they called Jesus Christ, did nothing for publicity or personal glorification. It does not matter if you are a follower of this faith, the point is to look to what he represented. He represented love, compassion and charity.
Christmas trees and Santa Claus are well-known icons of Christmas. But this year, we need the other, major symbol of Christmas to be brought into focus in the United States for people of all religions. We need the teachings of this man called Jesus to symbolize and represent this Christmas of 2020. We need the help to be rendered with humility, compassion and without fanfare. The giving must focus on the needs of the recipient. We need this as more people need the help of their leaders and neighbors to survive this crisis. Then and only then, would we have truly observed Christmas.