Thursday, November 5, 2009

We are America: What Can We Do?

(Picture taken from johnzQuotes5)

Every day I try to think of something relevant and significant to talk about, because every day I want to say something that will make at least one person think critically about some aspect of the world and how they fit into it.  Today's entry was inspired by a post I read yesterday called Something's Broken... on the blog Freedom of Thought.  This talks about the plight of the homeless in the United States and urges people to get up and do something to help those who lack and are struggling to survive.

This point hit me a little hard.  I have come to desire greater freedoms, smaller government and less taxes: however, when looking at the pictures of the homeless (especially one man, curled up in a city corner, mostly buried in snow) I thought to myself, "What should we do?  Who should be responsible?  How can this be fixed?"

As I'm sure you've all heard, as an individual person we are less than a blip in the sea of 300 million Americans (United States), and even less in the sea of 6.7 billion people worldwide.  My thoughts have stayed confined to the United States for the time, as it is my home country, but they also can be applied to the world at large.  Please listen.  I'm sure you've heard the like before, but does it make them less true?  These are my thoughts:

If everyone in the United States gave one dollar a year, each year 300 million dollars could be put forth to help those in need.  It could fund soup kitchens, homeless shelters, work programs, anything.  And that's just one dollar a year!  At 10 dollars a year, that number becomes 3 billion dollars.  At 1 dollar a month, that becomes 3.6 billion dollars.  At 10 dollars a month, 36 billion dollars.  At 1 dollar a day, 109.5 billion dollars in a year.  1 dollar a day, for most of us, is a minuscule sum.  Many of us can afford more.  So, before you rely on the government to take and spend your money for you, ask yourself: "What can I give to help those in my community who need it?"

Many programs designed to help the needy require people: administrators, staff, etc.  The programs are often strapped for cash, and cannot afford to pay much, if anything, to these helpers.  Community service to some of us may seem like a huge burden, taking away from those other things we need to do.  However, can you spare 1 hour a year?  If everyone volunteered one hour a year, that's 300+ million man hours of help.  How about one hour a month?  That's 3.6 billion man hours a year.  One hour a week?  That's 15.6 billion man hours per year.  One day a month?  That's 43.2 billion man hours per year.  For most of us, this is a negligible amount of time in our schedule, one that might have been spent watching TV or surfing the Internet.

If you sit where you are and think, "He can write that, but getting up and doing that won't make others join in: my contribution still won't make a difference," I'd have to agree with the first half of your statement.  Your contribution won't encourage the rest of us 300+ million to do the same: it will be the small dollar, the short hour, that you contributed.  However, it will make a difference: maybe not the largest difference, but one extra mouthful of soup, one extra bed built, one extra hour open always helps.  And, to quote Bruce Almighty, "Be the miracle".  Be the change you wish to see in the world.  If you are a huge proponent of helping the poor and needy, be this change so that others can see.  If you hate taxes and resent government intrusion into your affairs, show that you can take care of these things without its help.  Do not wait for others to take the lead.  Do not wait for the right time.  It is up to you to contribute your share.

You have probably realized by now why I included the above quote in today's post: no matter how small your contribution, it will help.  As you help, spread the word.  Others will follow your example.  No, it is not your job to lead them: once they decide how they can help, they will do so on their own.  When many individuals individually help out, the total contribution will be significant.  And while 100% participation in the country may be an unattainable goal, I see no reason not to shoot for it.

I do ignore many of the logistics here.  How the money is used requires planning.  Where the hours are given requires planning.  Such an effort requires a huge administrative effort.  I will merely say this, without throwing out half-baked plans and ideas: you can help with that too.  Come up with ideas and share them with others.  Make plans to start small efforts within your town.  And before you think that these efforts are for lazy bums who can't help the general society, just know that such an idea is bullshit.  The best laid plans will help such people contribute to the efforts as well as benefit from them.  The best plans will not feed them, but teach them skills that they can use to put food in their mouths.  "Give a man a fish...", well, you know the rest.  More importantly, you can have ideas about what to do too.  Share them.  Act on them.  The smallest idea, the tiniest first step, can still lead to significant, maybe even great things.

I know that I can talk the talk; you may sit there thinking, "What the hell does he do for the needy?  How is he following through on this grand vision of his?".  So far, my saying of these things is very hypocritical; I have done very little for the needy.  I myself am poor and live at the behest of my parents until my schooling completes and I can find a better job.  But, I think that I have enough money and time to buy a turkey and make sure that it's cooked at a local soup/food kitchen in time for Thanksgiving.  While it may just be in my head, I can imagine many people giving thanks for something like that.  What will you do?


Innocent Owner Of Mad Cats said...

Charities get almost all there donations Oct thru Dec. Come January, we all forget about the homeless and people in need. This is a great post and a reminder to us all. A quick suggestion though, Repost this again in January as reminder to myself and everyone else who selfishly forget after the holidays.

I saw that post too, it wasn't until I read the caption that I realized there was a person sleeping buried in snow.

Stephen said...

Thanks for the comment; I'll mark it on my calendar to remind myself.

Also, while I didn't comment on your latest post, as a man with a mustache I found it hilarious.

Shannonagens said...

Great post! I just want you to know I am one of those Americans who contribute to society through It’s easy because my pay is garnished so I never forget, and I don’t seem to miss it too much. I’m a State employee, so it isn’t the first time my pay has been garnished (the dreaded furlough days) so this is one garnishment that I can say is being taken for good reason. My parents always said "you have to give a little, to get a little," and that has always stuck with me. I'm also a firm believer in karma and would like to stay in its good graces. You never know what could happen to you in life and you may one day need some help...

I love your blog! Thanks for stopping by mine yesterday and leaving a friendly note. I’m in the works of making another blog about more random thoughts/feelings…politics can give me a headache, and can be pretty negative, so I need a more uplifting place to escape to!

Stephen said...

Thanks for reading! I know how politics can be, so I try to mix it up a bit and stay away from the facts of the issues...well, not be mis-informed, but talk on a more theoretical level. The facts and trying to puzzle out what may or may not be true depresses me at times.

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