Yes, the public outrage towards the likes of AIG, Bernard Madoff, and certain corporate, governmental, and non-profit leaders is wholly understandable. I have felt this way on many occasions as the financial meltdown has exploded around us.
But these expressions of anger are not helping friends and family who are struggling to keep afloat after job losses and other setbacks impacting their finances. Kind hearts, not angry ones, are needed now to help others.
It may mean investing yourself in helping someone who is unemployed, in ways that go beyond cheap advice or trite encouragement. If you have the resources, it may mean a gift of money (not a loan, as people in financial need don’t need more loans) or even recurring gifts of money. It also could mean helping out places like the local food bank with regular contributions of money or time.
Fortunately, we are now hearing appeals to what Abraham Lincoln called “the better angels of our nature.” For example:
Washington Post columnist Michelle Singletary is asking people to share their abundance.
Writer and activist Chuck Collins, writing in Sojourners, is calling for the creation of “common security clubs” to serve a mutual support function for people during these hard times.
New York Times columnist Ron Lieber writes about how we can help those who need a hand, with many good comments posted after his fine article.
I’ve said this before, but it bears repeating: Most of us are but one job loss away from difficult financial circumstances. Extending our genuine support to others, without condescension or hidden obligation, does not guarantee that we will receive the same if and when we need it, but it will contribute to a culture of caring that benefits and enriches all of us.
I hope readers will forgive my sentiment, but this post is in memory of Betty Yamada, who passed away seven years ago today. In addition to being a great mom to me and my brother Jeff, she taught kindergarten at a school in a low-income neighborhood, and after retiring she volunteered for Meals on Wheels and with the local hospice. Mom embodied “the better angels of our nature.”