I understand most of everyone's points, but bashing America isn't helpful. This is where those who live here eat, sleep, and breathe. If during the rest of the time we are more or less charitable, it would not make us more or less American. We are American because we're here in this land. We can discuss the current culture, the media (don't expect me to add much there), I'd say politics but not on the public fora. Where we live is amoral. What we're able to do in our nation and what we choose to do are more important and determine the value of being in this land--for ourselves and others.
A note about "helping the poor" though--I'll try not to make this political because I think this thread should stay public. Knowing that one's tax dollars have gone to provide to disadvantaged families doesn't count toward one's own charitable acts. It just doesn't count. Moreover, the system that delivers these is inefficient, invasive, and dehumanizing. It artificially limits freedom in some cases. On top of that, a family can still be using luxuries or making money and use these tax-funded services. Because it seeks to bring everyone up to whatever standard of living
is considered culturally acceptable. If you look at nonprofits, typically a person or family has to have nothing
in order to receive aid. No income, no savings, no clothes, no helpful family, nothing. They are aiming to help people meet their basic needs
. And they are often underfunded and understaffed. Why? I believe partly because many of us feel we've "done our duty" by paying our taxes, and partly because by paying all those taxes (yes I get they're historically low), we feel the pinch and feel we can't give more, after giving to Uncle Sam and our church and all the other things we have to pay for. Several years ago I did not understand this; I was dismissive of those complaints, but am now beginning to see how that can happen.
Another problem I see is that instead of one community-wide citizen effort, there are 27 different small charities, and not even a directory to navigate them. Often these fall along denominational lines, each doing their own thing--some are ecumenical or secular. We shouldn't be snobby; if it truly helps people, I think it is a worthy effort. My county has made efforts to remedy that with a little booklet, but it's not scattered far and wide. That should be public knowledge right up there with where you vote. But to pool community resources (not just money) and intelligently and efficiently target the problems in our specific community?? We're too pinched, too busy working 2 1/2 jobs per household trying to alleviate the pinch, and besides, the state's got this, right?! Sort of.
Other cultural pitfalls Christians seem to get stuck in: We don't know what a need versus a luxury is, we don't account for regional differences, we don't want to work, we think material aid can replace meaningful relationships, and we've decided that fair = same. But this is all cultural
. Not national. It can be separated and culture can be changed. When "bah it's Americans, we just need to be less American" enters the conversation, it misses the point (and targets the wrong enemy). We can be less American by expatriating or renaming the nation. We can be better
Americans by changing our own attitudes and habits. And possibly by throwing our TV(s) in a lake.
I really ought to toss my computer in there after it. I'll crawl down off my soap box now and wander off; I'm honestly not meaning to be heavy handed.