Thursday, October 27, 2011

Putting Your Money Where Your Mouth Is

Parting with money is very difficult for me unless it is for something that directly affects my life. Buying food, drink, tickets, clothing and everything else I think I need to live my life is very easy. The difficulty lies in giving money to others or organizations.

As a child my family attended the Midwest Boulevard Christian Church, a member of the Disciples of Christ denomination. Every Sunday the collection plate would be passed down the pew and my father would place a small envelope containing some mysterious amount of money in it. I recall only a few times when I placed anything in the plate but the times I did gave me a feeling of fulfillment. I remember hearing about tithing but I never really understood what it meant until I was in my teens, or maybe even later.

Tithing has taken on several connotations over the centuries. In "biblical" times it meant giving 10 percent of your income to the priests and prophets. In the Middle Ages it meant giving 10 percent of what you had to the King. In modern times I believe it just means giving to charity. A good friend of mine, who is a christian, used to tithe to her church until she found that the leaders of the church were using the money for their own personal gain. She then began tithing to people she knew who were in need of help. I have always admired her for this but was not ready to follow her example.

I have recently given money to a few organizations whom I think are worthy of my hard earned dollars. One organization is my local NPR affiliate station, KUAF. I figure that if I-wake up every morning to "Morning Edition", tune the radio at work to "Talk of the Nation", drive home to "Fresh Air", and fall asleep to either "Performance Today" or the classical music feed-that I'd best pony up the bucks to support them.
The other organization I have given to is the National Organization for Women. This group fights hard for women's rights and, being a woman, I feel it is important to give them my support.
The only other giving I've done recently was a few bucks to a homeless man asking for help in Fayetteville. 

All of this "giving" has not come close to being 10 percent of my income but I don't really think tithing requires that. I believe that giving money AND time should count equally and I have been contemplating donating my time to something worthwhile, like our local food bank. I admit that I am the worlds worst volunteer but surely I can spare a few hours to sort food and stock shelves.  Now that I've committed the words to "paper" I will have to act on them.

I need to heed the advise of Goethe who said: "Don't say that you want to give, but go ahead and give! You'll never catch up with a mere hope." Or in other words, get up off your ass and put your money (or time) where your mouth is. Yup, that sums it up!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Occupy Wall Street

I've attended many protests in my day but the protest movement known as Occupy Wall Street is the most inspiring political happening in my adult lifetime. It would seem that the masses are finally mad as hell and aren't gonna take it anymore. I wish I had the will to take a vacation from my cushioned life and join the excitement but, even though I am one of the 99%, I am one of the 90% who is lucky enough to have a job and must work to keep it.

The coming together of so many diverse people, hundreds of whom sleep nightly in Zuccoti Park, with so much creativity in communal living makes me want to sell everything and join the movement as a full time protester. The corporate owned media paints the protesters as hippies, drop-outs and privileged liberal brats. In fact the masses at the protests are union members and regular lower and middle class citizens who are finally pissed off enough to let their voices be heard. They are teachers and librarians. They are grandmothers and grandfathers. They are construction workers and garbage collectors. They are people like you and me who believe in democracy and that banks and corporations have co-opted America.

The corporate owned politicians don't understand what the protest is really about. Eric Cantor calls the protesters "mobs" invoking all the negativism that word embodies. President Obama said that the protest "expresses the frustrations the American people feel", but he doesn't understand that he is part of the problem. I can guarantee you that the people who are occupying Wall Street are not supporters of Obama or the democratic party. As long as there are corporate campaign contributions there will never be a politician who fights for a true democracy of the people, by the people and for the people.

When your local peace activists announce a protest in your area join the movement and let your voice be added so the masses can at last be heard. I am determined to get off my ass and head off to Fayetteville, sign in hand, and join the protesters once again.

(the logo is by Drea Zlanabitnig and was "lifted" from the New York Times)