Empathy is feeling for others. The poor, down trodden come to mind. We, at least most of us, are taught that we are to care for those who cannot care for themselves. As children it comes easy. We’re willing to share a penny for a UNICEF drive, put our children’s envelope into the basket at Sunday services or give a gently used toy to help a child who has lost his house. We get older. As a preteen our feelings toward the needy get dulled and is usually brought out under parental or peer pressure. As teens we discover the opposite sex. They’ve always been there but Nature has joined the mix. We begin to lose the child-like good feelings that came from giving without reason. Yep, it was without reason on our part. Something outside motivated us, parents, peers, powers-that-be were there to exert the pressure. As we grow we rebel. Even those who spend the rest of their lives within arm’s reach of their parents begin to rebel. We would rather spend a portion of our money on movies or entertainment than sending it to a child in Africa, even though we know that our donation will keep her healthy. It’s natural. We’re thinking of a prime directive, procreation. Okay, not the kid part but everything that leads up to it. By the time we’ve reached adulthood we’re educated formally or otherwise. We take our place along side our parents and become responsible members of society.
As adults we’re supposed to understand almost everything. Moving through the lifestream we come across people and place that need our help. By this time we’re aware of the fact that “You can change the World” is not so much an affirmation but rather a battle cry. A battle cry that becomes more difficult to answer as time moves on. As adults we’ve courted, wooed, married and begun families. As individuals we’ve acquired baggage and become baggage. If fortune smiles we are able to have our immediate group kept safe from disease and tragedy. Sometimes this doesn’t happen. A mutant gene, seemingly benign virus or some outside physical event causes our lives to take a hard hit. Yes, we’ve been taught to stand up, but we need help and no matter what the cost thing will be made right. We seek help, even though it hurts us. We should be able to care for those close to us.
Picture the worst scene scenario of an adult life in a country where medical help and nutrition are taken for granted. Picture this happening where a government is dominated by whoever has the most guns and/or money. Not pretty. We know this is happening. But as we move through our own crises we find it hard to feel for people thousands of miles away. Maybe we’ve sent money to a charity and ben inundated with pleas for money. We can’t answer all of them. We can’t ignore all of them, our humanity won’t allow it. I feel a twinge of guilt when I go through my mail and have to relegate donation requests to the trash. I used to save them in hopes of finding the funds to send. All I got was a pile of unopened envelopes. As this went on I began to lose that feeling I had when the SPCA or Habitat for Humanity had a check coming. The overrun, the glut of requests for monies to be sent to Africa, for children with cleft palates, for tigers and every other good cause you can think of built up. The box I kept them in was tossed on Saturday morning. I swore off charity. Everything went directly into the trash. My bank account flourished. Twenty five dollars every two weeks is a lot. Anyway, there’s all those millionaires who have to money to give away to keep from paying taxes, and the foundations and the government.
I avoided television pleas for money. My soul hardened. Not to Scrooge level but to neo-con on steroids level. Social Darwinism would take car of it. I still had a kernel in my soul that felt like crap. It caught up to me on a Saturday. I needed to pick up a book from a bookstore that didn’t take credit or debit cards (go figure). It hit the ATM and withdrew some cash. Got the book and drove home. A quick stop at my favorite hot dog stand for lunch made it perfect. Outside there was a guy standing around. He approached, he wasn’t real comfortable. To make it short he hit me up for a couple bucks so he could have something to eat. I was planning on maybe two bucks but for some reason I gave him a five. Yep, I know, he’ll probably spend it on alcohol. The kernel grew.
Now I offer a solution. First, use your debit card to withdraw money not to pay for things, you’re smart enough not to over withdraw. Pay cash. It gives you a shorter bank statement. A rule for your living space (house, condo, apartment) “No one leaves with loose change in their pockets. This applies to husbands, wives, children, lovers, one night stands and any visitors you can browbeat into doing it. All you need is a jar by the door. As you leave you toss loose change into it. If you’re dumb enough to carry bills in your pocket tough cookies. When it gets to a level you feel comfortable with find a place for the money. In your neighborhood, in an animal shelter, in a foreign country or in your church. It’ll bring back the feeling for others and some for yourself.

See you tomorrow.