In an unusual but edifying agenda for a usual Sunday morning political “blab show,” the refreshing anchor of ABC’s This Week, Christiane Amanpour, dedicated her hour last Sunday to four of the wealthiest people in the nation, none of whom hold public office or fixate on the usual partisan politics. Bill and Melinda Gates, Ted Turner and Warren Buffet took turns spending the hour talking about. For want of a better term, redistributing their wealth to address incredibly pressing and painful needs that the world’s poor and insecure live with.
In contrast to the drumbeat revving up in Washington, D.C. by moral midget leaders of the Republican Party tasked by their Wall Street masters to extend the Bush tax breaks to the richest Americans, even as they block extending unemployment benefits, these four billionaires all agreed that they’re not being taxed nearly enough.
They seemed to share similar views about the virtues and rewards of helping those who need it, and if anything came across from them all it was the genuine sense that they themselves benefited profoundly as human beings from their philanthropy.
Generosity does beautiful things to and for the human spirit. In fact, it is this nation’s historic “generosity of spirit” that many around the world have identified as America’s greatest trait.
In economically hard times, however, a generosity that comes easily when things are good gets severely challenged. For too many, cheerful facades come off, and a stingy, hateful disposition emerges that rips gifts out of the hands of the needy and clutches to everything it insists are “mine, mine, mine!”
Yes, as we enter the holiday season, we are reminded of Charles Dickens’ Scrooge, a bookkeeper who insisted his clients keep their debt to equity ratios low, or there would be dire consequences.
These tough economic times for Falls Church bring out Scrooge-like sentiments among too many, whose relative privilege in life has not brought with it the magnanimity of spirit of a Buffet or Gates.
But it is not in good times, it is in bad times like now that generosity matters most, and manifests is greatest rewards for the giver and receiver, alike. It’s in times like these that a person’s true character shows through, what they’ve been like, what they can hope to be like for the duration of their time on this planet.
Often, as with Scrooge, however, some good old fashioned self-examination, especially in the context of a fleeting mortality, can turn a man’s life around, and his disposition toward others, as well.
This holiday season, we wish the gift of generosity for everyone, no matter if they’re well off and can afford it, if they’re born with or adopted it at an early age, or if a mid- or later-life correction issues it forth.
In the final analysis, the best thing that could ever be said about our beloved community is that its people are generous. If they’re not, then nothing else can make it worth living here.