'Tis the Season

The holidays bring out the best in us and the worst in us. They bring out a generosity of spirit and also show us the deep divide between the haves and the have-nots.

by Connie H. Deutsch

The month of December has historically been a time of giving.  In the worst of times I've watched people who had barely enough money to put food on the table, empty their pockets in grocery stores to put coins and bills into the charity boxes near the cash registers, and to reach into their wallets to give something to strangers in the street.

The holidays have always brought out the best in us and the worst in us.  When we are at our best, we see a generosity of spirit that is unparalleled during the rest of the year, unless we are responding to a catastrophic emergency somewhere in the world.  But it also brings out the worst in us.  It emphasizes the deep divide between the haves and the have-nots.  We see this side of humanity every time we hear that someone has been the victim of a robbery or murder.  This is when we see the hard core of greed and anger and witness the underbelly of our society by people who are forced to live on the fringe of civilization.

In recent times, it has also brought out the people with major entitlement issues, the ones who expect everything to be given to them with very little effort on their part.  They have the attitude that they are entitled to have it all and you can see it when you go to the shopping malls and the security cops tell you to hold onto your money because there has been a rash of robberies.  There have been times when I've seen people arrested who were fairly well dressed; they didn't look like they were living below subsistence level.

I make it a practice not to count other people's money but from casual observation, I've seen the people who are really in need of financial assistance be too proud to ask for help or to accept help only as a last resort when they felt they had no other choice.  For the most part, these are not the people who are stealing purses and wallets in shopping centers.  Those are mostly the people who have entitlement issues.  Some of them just want what they don't have and some people steal because they want to give nice gifts they can't afford and this is the easiest way to do it.

This year, in the midst of a deep economic downturn with unprecedented numbers of unemployed, I am still seeing a generosity of spirit.  People are still giving, albeit, they are not able to give as much as in previous years.  It's still early in the month, but my guess is that even with the economy being in such a precarious state, people will still give a little beyond what they can afford.

My wish for the coming year is that this generosity of spirit that comes out in full force over the holidays be with us all the days of our lives.  It is also my wish that the baskets we fill for the needy during the holidays, we remember to fill the rest of the year.  And if wishes come true, I really wish for world peace and tranquility of spirit for all mankind.

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