I received a very thoughtful card in the mail from my sister-in-law that quoted the poet, Maya Angelou. Angelou said, "When we give cheerfully and accept gratefully, everyone is blessed." That started me thinking about charity.
Love of God, love of self and love of neighbor. That's what life is all about. That's it. Of course we spend our whole lives trying to figure out what that means in practical terms. It's not always apparent what love requires in specific instances.
Love is not a contract. Love is personal. I have what will help and I freely give it. We need to be loved in time of real need in order to feel human. That is charity.
The government cannot be charitable. It can give money but man doesn't live on money alone. You just have to look at the cities that are over run with crime and violence. The government has been giving these cities a lot of money for a very long time. Yet the youth are not graduating, unemployment is at a level that is much higher than the national average, and criminals have taken over too many neighborhoods. There is no gratitude for the hand outs of food, diapers and cell phones. The recipients are not thankful for the generosity of the taxpayers for their welfare checks and food stamps. In fact, they resent the citizens who have enough income to pay taxes! They oftentimes squander the money, cheat the system and complain that the rich aren't giving their fair share.
On the one hand, can you blame them? It's humiliating to be dependent upon someone else. Even if the culture of the neighborhood has deteriorated to the point where being dependent is seen as a way of life and is considered good, the human spirit rots. That rotting eats away at their dignity, their self worth, their dreams and goals. Pretty soon they start acting on the anger and dissatisfaction that builds within them and they turn violent. First, the families fall apart. Then the school systems fall apart. And down it all comes.
All because we let government do what we must do; love our neighbor.
We're not Afghanistan; a country comprised of tribes. We are the UNITED States of America. We aren't separate "tribes" of Hispanics, or Blacks, Jews, or Muslims, rich, or poor. These groups don't have their own laws. They don't just take care of their own. They don't war with each other. We are a united people, living under one constitution, one set of laws. We are one nation. What happens to one group of people happens to all of us. When Katrina, Sandy, LA riots, or the Detroit riots happened, we all cared, pitched in and helped. Every citizen is our neighbor.
Conservatives think of our country as a whole, not as "them" and "us." That's why we dislike the phrase, "African American." I'm of Italian descent. I don't identify myself as an "Italian American." As much pride as I take in my heritage, I am American. Period.
That's why conservative politicians don't and shouldn't single out a particular group of Americans in their campaign strategy. We don't think that way. Our common values and priorities blur those divisions. Our message is for every American.
The reason conservatives support one candidate over another is not because of the person's race, religion, ethnicity or gender. The sexists and racists are those who support someone just because she's a woman or just because he's black.
Conservatives have solid reasons for supporting or working against a person. Those reasons are the person's values, character and stance on the founding documents of America. That's why we absolutely insist on thoroughly vetting the candidates and then informing the voters. This information is critical for making a wise choice.
I am blessed to live in a community of caring, supportive neighbors. When someone is sick, we offer rides, visits, food, prayers, whatever is needed. No one is alone feeling unloved. Get to know and love your neighbor. Practice charity and be blessed, as Maya Angelou said.
Let's meet again next Tuesday.
Nancy Sarowski is the president of Emmet County Republican Women. Her column appears each Tuesday. Contact Sarowski at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can learn more about the Emmet County Republican Women's group on Facebook.