I recently read an article about about an army charity stockpiling money rather than giving it to the troops and families that the original donations were intended for. I currently don’t have any truly close friends or family serving overseas but this has got to be incredibly heart breaking for those that do. Just the thought is discouraging to me. It has me asking myself, what is wrong with the world today?
I had an interesting experience when I was probably about 10 years old. My Dad and I were washing his car at a local carwash when a man approached us to ask for change. The car wash is in the same parking lot as a small liqour store, and a Burger King. When the man asked, my Dad asked the man if he was going to go buy alcohol with the money. The man insisted that he hadn’t eaten for quite some time and planned to go get a burger from Burger King. My Dad gave the man a handful of change. The man was thankful, and we were both surprised to see him proceed over to the Burger King. We fished up washing the car, and as we pulled out of the parking lot we saw the man walking into the door of the liqour store. He had walked straight through the Burger King and continued on to the liqour store. I remember him looking back at us as he walked in, and to this day I wonder if the disappointment on my young face ever reached his heart.
Since that day I have done my best to only give people asking for change, food or clothing rather than money. It does not always work out to be possible because I want to believe in the human spirit’s good nature, trusting that people will use the change or dollars I give them for what they are actually saying they need it for. I was recently disappointed again by a similar experience to the one I had as a child. This recent experience, and the addition of reading this article, which is essentially a larger scale of someone, in this case a non-profit, taking advantage of people’s good nature.
Though at times this world may sometimes be discouraging, the good nature of people is what keeps the world going. I’ve started a new habit this year, and challenge you to find one that feels right for you that contributes to the world, even if it’s in the smallest amount. My recent practice of spreading love has been to buy food for someone less fortunate each time I spend money on myself for food. It’s only a dollar for an extra item at your local fast food joint, and there will always be someone hungry around the corner that can’t afford it. I also keep an extra piece of fruit in the car with me, along with an extra bottled water or Gatorade to give to the people that seem to live at every intersection here in Austin.
By doing it directly, looking someone in the eye that may have otherwise not had that simple but necessary human contact in the day, it touches your soul. Not that your church tithe plate, or favorite charity isn’t a great place to donate, but the depth of joy you will get from doing this will make you feel a sense of purpose in life, even when the day might have started off just the opposite for you. Trust me, today was exactly one of those days for me.
When it comes down to it, it’s the Brooklyn Way, the California Way, the American Way… the Human Way.