22 February 2019

Charity that Goes Where Your Heart Is

I love liberty, including the liberty to see my money go into causes that I choose to support.

Alida Brown is a wonderful person. We didn't agree on much politically, but I don't question her kindness and generosity. I know she cared about me and my family and was mindful of time that was needed together when she and I worked some long hours on county health council needs. I remember that she had taken a single mother and child in need into her home for many months, helping them access opportunities. Alida is a great woman and I never would want to dissuade her or those like her from performing the wonderful service they render.

I remember some work that we were doing on a Saturday morning at the office. Our talk wandered onto the political and I recall vaguely that our ideological differences were laid bare. She struggled to understand how some libertarian-leaning person such as myself, who are so often cast of drug-addled, "anything-goes" ne'er-do-wells, would be involved in concrete, research-based, publicly-funded community health initiatives. I was certainly an anomaly in the council group, which seemed exclusively peopled by those looking to use the resources of big government to fulfill one (hopefully) altruistic goal or another.  Good folks all, but often of a different "bent" than I am.

I shared my thoughts on liberty, which is simply the ability to chart one's own course beyond the coercion of one's neighbors, especially as expressed through government. I wanted to do what I wished without being compelled by a codified dictum like tax law. I was helping her to work to improve health in our county because it helped feed my family and the work was compatible with my skill-set. Although I understood that taxes collected from everyone paid for our work, I didn't like that aspect of it.  If our work was wanted and needed, couldn't the necessary money be raised from charitable people instead of from money first taxed by the government and then legislated to a politicized cause?  I never could rectify how I should feel that taxes were better than voluntary donations.

I am always happy to see local initiatives funded by private foundations, especially ones that reflect the sensibilities of those being served. I will avoid speaking poorly of those working for the betterment of people, families, and communities - they are good people.  However, I often find myself at crossed-purposes with such folk when their help becomes "loaded" with ideology and political correctness.  Studies show that Americans are the most generous people when measured by their charitable donations and I am personally thrilled when such donations are spent in ways approved by the original donors - the work being done that reflects their heart-felt desires.  For instance, I am happy to give to organizations like LDS Humanitarian Aid and Heifer International that (hopefully) avoid large administrative overhead and provide for basic needs and education to those in the world who need it most.  I am not special, but I am glad my donations can provide help that is special to those who receive it!

I hope many of you feel the need to be charitable and don't just count the taxes you pay as your only contribution to the lives of others. Let your own heart be the guide by being charitable with the resources and time that you control!