Giving Hope to What We Can’t See

We all interact and see interactions of people willing to act in goodwill with people they can see.  If you know somebody’s story, see their face, you are more apt to help them.  If they look familiar to you, worship the same religion, abide by the culture you will be more giving.  A service industry worker will do better receiving tips than a flat pay.  If someone in your life is struggling you may help them based on their needs and abilities.

But in society we also need to give hope to those we can’t see.  Humanity is generally good at helping those within its own village but when natural economic conditions segregate society, dealing with forced goodwill (taxes), or dealing with goodwill outside the circle of the army (other countries) goodwill is not as easy to come by but it is still important.

Every year the United States government spends more than charities do on goodwill including Medicaid, food stamps, unemployment, housing etc.  It also subsidizes charitable giving.  This doesn’t include Social Security or Medicare because those are just more dignified ways of taking for our seniors than everyone doing it privately and everyone may benefit from these programs. 

It is impossible to tell everyone’s story and it can be easy to create cynicism about forced goodwill but what kind of culture and society does hope to the bottom create or cynicism to the bottom?  How meaningful is cherry-picking or otherwise creating cynical stories about government goodwill?  Is it realistic that voluntary goodwill can plug all the needed holes alone?

The government does a lot of heavy lifting on goodwill and charities fill in the cracks, together this goodwill is an important part of who we are, our soul, and what we wish the country to stand for.

For alongside our famous individualism, there’s another ingredient in the American saga. A belief that we’re all connected as one people.

If there is a child on the south side of Chicago who can’t read, that matters to me, even if it’s not my child. If there’s a senior citizen somewhere who can’t pay for their prescription drugs, and has to choose between medicine and the rent, that makes my life poorer, even if it’s not my grandparent. If there’s an Arab American family being rounded up without benefit of an attorney or due process, that threatens my civil liberties.

It is that fundamental belief, it is that fundamental belief, I am my brother’s keeper, I am my sister’s keeper that makes this country work. It’s what allows us to pursue our individual dreams and yet still come together as one American family.

For alongside our famous individualism, there’s another ingredient in the American saga. A belief that we’re all connected as one people.

E pluribus unum. Out of many, one.

President Barack Obama (2004 Convention Speech)

Image Reference

Adobe Stock / Ipopba