Friday, May 29, 2009

Guilt, It's the New Black!

I have heard some messages lately from quite a few different sources. The messages are saying about the same thing: Americans are rich, spoiled and should be ashamed. Now, I do believe that we are the richest people in the world. Compare our poor to the World's poor and it doesn't even come close. We are very progressive and fortunate. Why do we have to feel guilty about it? Are we not also the most generous nation? (Yes, we are!!) Do we not have missionaries all over the world? (Yes, we do!) Do we not also have all sorts of relief groups, medical groups and charities that are all about helping the poor IN ADDITION to what our government does? (YES! YES!!)

So why then should I feel ashamed and embarrassed to be an American? I try very hard to be good steward of everything God blesses me with. I am a generous person as are most of the people I know. The people I know who have alot more money than I do are usually (of course, not ALWAYS) abundantly more generous than I am. I am proud of our country as a whole and I think we are very benevolent.

Now, to argue the other side, I see wastefulness all around me. I see things set out for the trash man that are in perfect shape-people just don't want it and are too lazy to find it a new home. I am appalled at the way food is wasted. I can recall a holiday pizza party given in one of my kid's classroom. Those children had already had lunch and there were all kinds of other snacks brought in to "celebrate". I did not see one child take more than a bite of pizza. The rest went into the trash and my heart ached at the waste of food and money. I see programs where food that is not used is just thrown away. I worked at fast food restaurants where there was a timer and once the food reached a certain "age", it had to be tossed. It was called "quality control" but as a poor college student working two jobs and supporting myself, I called it a tragedy. One maverick manager let us eat the 'old' food on a break because we were a very hard-working crew. We all knew she could lose her job over it but we respected her greatly. We were all poor and she knew it. It was the right call on her part, in my humble opinion.

America is a nation of excess. It is all around us. Do I feel guilty about it????? NO!! I think it is an opportunity to bless others. I also think people are beginning to wake up and realize the value of a dollar. I think we, as a nation, are well on our way to making better decisions about our food, our stuff and our money.

Guilt is an effective way to get people to change, but I personally prefer the "knowledge is power" approach. When people know better, they will do better. As people all around us are losing jobs and trimming the fat in their budgets, it is the time to be generous if you can. Don't feel guilty for having a good job or being blessed with wealth. Choose instead to be generous and thankful to be able to bless others.

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