on Generosity

“To know when to be generous and when to be firm — this is wisdom.” Elbert Hubbard (1856-1915) American writer, publisher, artist, and philosopher

How do you define generosity? Is it a choice or is it something that can be forced? Is it only possible to be generous with your own time or money or are you still considered generous if you use other people’s time or money?  What truly makes a generous person?

This question goes to the core of why I have issues with government hand-outs: the complete redefinition of what makes true generosity. No longer is it good enough for us to choose who to give our time and money to, now the government must take more of it away in order to “give” on our behalf. The problem with that is they often don’t make very good choices on who or what to give to, they choose people or causes of no value to me, and they are not very efficient at it.

Americans are a naturally generous people. Generosity is the natural by-product of freedom. Even though so much of our income is taken away in the form of taxes, we still open up our wallets and our hearts to meet the needs of those people or causes who need a helping hand.  Unfortunately, we continue to lose this ability with the constant surrender of more and more of our paycheck to a government whose values may not line up with our own. Can you imagine what additional great things could be done if all Americans were able to keep more of their own money?

I think it basically boils down to this: trust and control. The government does not trust us with our own money and wants to control who gets it based on what our politicians find valuable.  This reveals an attitude of condescension towards ordinary American people, an elitist belief that our kindness does not compare to that of the government, that the bureaucrats always know best, and that we are not smart enough to know the most worthy causes in which to give. No wonder they feel like they deserve first dibs on all that we earn!

Well, I am tired of being treated like a child by our “parental” government. Do we seriously believe that if Americans keep more of their own income, and take over the duty of caring for their neighbors instead of a bumbling government,  that we would just abandon our fellow citizens when they are in need? Have we not seen plenty of examples already of the generosity of Americans who still stand in the gap when our government fails at the very thing they claim to be better at than we are? I think more money would go towards actually helping those in need if local citizens were in charge, rather than to the waste and fraud centralized government stewardship seems to breed

The United States government is not generous; the American people are. The essence of generosity is self-sacrifice; there is no self-sacrifice when what you give comes from the pockets of someone else. This is why government programs don’t work; when a government is “generous” it tends to only be towards those things that keep the politicians in power. Individual generosity lifts others up, encouraging independence and self-sufficiency, while government generosity keeps people down, rewarding and teaching dependence.  Government was never designed to be the hand from which help springs – it was always intended to come from our neighbors, given willingly, cheerfully and wisely. These are the qualities that draw communities closer, making them stronger and more resilient. When government steps in these basic building blocks are lost, and we are the weaker for it. There was a reason why our founders created a constitutionally limited government – they knew that government couldn’t be the glue that holds a nation together. This must come from its people. They knew that goodness springs from a people who are allowed to breathe free, in control of their own destiny, unburdened by a domineering political ruling class, and able to have the means to bless others as their heart guides them. These past leaders trusted the American people – why don’t ours now?

I can remember way back when a liberal was one who was generous with his own money” Will Rogers (1879-1935) American humorist of the vaudeville stage and of silent and sound films

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