Today started as one of those days that was bound to be memorable. The sun was shining, the leaves were turning, and the air was not quite to cold. The world smells of briskness and new life, even if it is just a last flash in the pan before winter. The world is waiting for all of us to scamper about, flinging limbs, in some final furious effort to enjoy ourselves before winter hibernation. And I myself am ready to fling.
But there are other vibrations about as well. Thanksgiving is coming up, the first marker of the holiday season, which is supposed to be all about gratitude, love, and sharing. And what better way to begin the early edge of that season than with Blog Action Day, a day to really educate others on a single topic and hopefully do something about it. This year, the focus is on poverty.
And what can we say about it? We are, after all, going through a financial crisis. Many of those who were not feeling the bite of poverty now are. And how are we, on the whole, responding? Many of us are looking to the government for support. Some of us are looking to each other, which is a start. But I personally haven’t felt the bite too much. And what have I been doing about it? Very little.
I can remember first moving to Boston and being completely strapped for cash. And yet, every week, I would put a little something aside to give away to people who might need it. It might have been a small donation to a food pantry or a shelter. It might have been just paying for a friend’s lunch. But I remember those small expenses as something I couldn’t really afford, that I gave anyway.
Now that I’ve been steadily employed for several years, the savings all go somewhere else. Sure, I make a much more sizable charitable donation every month, and I do still set aside some time to volunteer. But by percentage, it’s nowhere near the same amount. When you’re making ends meet, you don’t worry about setting aside money for health care or as savings. Now that I actually have money and can afford nice things, I feel I’ve become much more materialistic and scroogy.
So where is the line drawn? At what point do I stop spending for myself and start spending for others, or vice versa? And how much do I try to save, even if in trust for those who will need it later?