Musings from George

Local vs global, hands-on vs oversight
June 19, 2006, 9:52 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

My sister pointed out to me that I have extolled my father's public service and only hinted at my mother's good deeds. Herewith to correct the oversight!

My mom received an award from an organization she had been helping — a shelter that provides homeless people a temporary respite and services, one of the few that takes families. She had been coordinating (and serving) a monthly dinner for the residents, and the award recognized her thirteen years of service … making her the longest-serving volunteer at the organization. I do remember distinctly as a child that my mom would help anyone — she would stop by the side of the highway so we could help change a flat tire for an elderly couple, LONG before I could drive. I remember distinctly giving my chair up on a bus in San Francisco to a woman (okay, my mom threw me out of the chair) when I was too small to reach the straps hanging down. After I was nearly crushed by an adult on a sharp turn, the woman who had accepted my chair actually took me onto her lap. But my mom was always willing to share what we had (with exchange students too), has always helped out at the church, and served on the executive teams with the League of Women Voters and the AARP. So I come by my noblesse oblige honestly, even if I have taken a slightly different path and chosen different foci.

So — what is nobler, to give locally (say tutoring at a school) or globally (say, donating to the tsunami relief fund)? Is it better to get involved and drive nails at a Habitat site, or nobler to write the largest check you can to the same organization?

A huge part of the money given to charities in the US goes to religious organizations, and a large percentage of that money is spent on the operations and facilities of those same religious organizations (rent on the parsonage quickly drowns out the $153 given to the missionary relief fund for Darfur). Wouldn't it be wonderful if we didn't need churches, and all of that money and energy could be focused outwards (service) rather than inwards (reflection)?

Random acts of kindness, sprinkled with senseless acts of beauty, have the potential to make the world a better place. Focused commitment of kindness, and ongoing support for making the entire world a better place, stand a much better chance of delivering on the promise.

That's it for now!