When I first moved to Hilton Head Island several years ago, I had someone complain to me that taxes from the people on Hilton Head Island were being used for more than the Hilton Head Schools. “Our taxes fund schools all over Beaufort County and that is just ridiculous,” said the person. Being new, I didn’t get into that discussion then and there because I have learned throughout my life that sometimes you just have to pick your battles. That wasn’t the time or the venue to get into that particular discussion.
That being said though, I have to admit that the complaint has stuck with me over time. Now to be clear I am not concerned about the legitimacy of the person’s argument. Actually, what bothers me most about what was said the tone that implied the absolute disregard and care for other people. As if, somehow, it was unthinkable to think that we actually may have a responsibility as citizens to care others at the expense of our own comfort.
To me this seems to be a growing trend in America and it’s not just among the younger generations. We have seemed to come to a place where we value our happiness and comfort above doing what is good and just.
Now let me preface what I am about to say by saying that I do not believe that we should rely on the government to fix all of our social ills. That is not the government’s job, as I understand it. I am all for a small, strong, central government. But that philosophy implies that there would be a host of civic organizations that responsible citizens were actively donating both their fiscal means and time to in order to help better our society. And frankly – I just don’t see that happening.
And, if concerned citizens are not willing to actively give their time and talents to organizations that better our world on a consistent and regular basis then why should we assume that the government will not, or should not, get bigger? Personally, I have no problem with tithing 10% of my income to civic organizations that I know change the hearts and lives of people. Do I pay taxes in addition to that 10%? Yes. Do I want to? Not really. But do I understand the necessity of doing so? Absolutely.
Like most, I don’t agree with what the government spends my tax dollars on most of the time either – BUT until enough people are willing to contribute to the civic good to show that we don’t NEED the government’s involvement in those areas then I think that there really is no legitimate argument to say that the government shouldn’t be involved.
And honestly, I have grown tired with pundits on both sided of the aisle who complain about how bad the government is when all they do themselves is complain. If you are really sick of the government’s involvement in our lives then get out and help those who are trying to better the world to make the case that we don’t need the government help in healing the world.
When we have eliminated poverty, when we have provided people with care for their health, when all people have opportunity to a good education, when homelessness and hunger is eradicated, when pollution is no longer a concern, when crime is universally unaccepted and shunned, when people are universally show love – then come and get me and I’ll march with you to Washington and demand that they stop taxing us. But until then, my suggestion is – either get out and get helping or just stop complaining and pay your taxes because, in short, our greed isn’t becoming of us as Americans.
2 thoughts on “Stepping Up our Philanthropy in Our World”
To offer another perspective: perhaps the person’s comment and tone reflected the coercive nature that is inherent in our system of taxation. I agree that we all can do more to serve those in need around us. For me there is a difference between you as a pastor exhorting us to help others and a government agent threatening arrest if I don’t pay money to the government (most of which, sad to say, does not go to those in need). Most people don’t like being told what to do, and I believe that your recent posts on conflict methodology reflect that idea.
Nick, thanks for your comment. In my opinion, if people don’t like their government then they have the option to rally people and change it but neglecting the poor either way is not an ethical option as I see it. Both have to do with personal responsibility. And while you may be right that most people don’t like being told what to do, the fact is that God has commanded us to do certain things and it is ultimately in our best interest to do them.
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