There’s nothing quite like summertime, a fresh clean rain, the smell of just mowed grass, and all of the fairs set apart the summer season from the rest. You had been looking forward to this particular fair for some time, a Taste of Mackasaw, which features every restaurant in town. Ferengio’s is a fantastic five-star restaurant with an award winning dessert bar. Every festival they introduce a new desert. The usually pricey sweets are, this day only, one dollar slices of heaven. Anyway, it’s all for a good cause.
As you arrive at the park, you are pushed to the side of a commotion. This year’s guest of honor, Mr. Vulcano doesn’t quite have enough to cover his friend’s ticket and is asking everybody to chip in. Most people outright refuse. Even his own neighbor, Romula Nye, scolds him for having bought five gallons of chocolate ice cream and leaving them outside just to see what would happen and not thinking ahead. As if things couldn’t get more ridiculous … Mr. Vulcano skulks to a guard and explains the situation. The out-of-towner blocks the entrance completely and announces, “If this man does not enter first, none of you are getting in. I was told this was a very charitable town.”
Guilt-ridden and slightly fearful of such a big man, you all line up single file, pay for your own tickets, and donate whatever change you can toward the ticket for the guest of honor’s friend. Some of you pay less than a dollar, some of you pay more than a dollar, but eventually the guard lets you all in. You count your money once again and realize that you can only buy half the desserts that you had originally planned. Meanwhile, you glance at the guest of honor’s table and notice that there are a total of fourteen desserts being split between two people. So much for a good cause. You hear Romula Nye remark, “I don’t know what that display was, but it certainly wasn’t charity.”
One of the most difficult things for me to explain to the former exchange student was the differences in charity between his understanding and how our country does it. You see, he was taught that as long as everybody contributes to a big pot that is used to pay for the things everybody needs, charity happens in that the richer give more and those in need get more. On the other hand, we have things like the Salvation Army to whom we are not required to contribute. They, in turn, give what they’ve gotten to others. He seemed to think that charity was charity, even if you had no say in the matter. I say that if you have no choice but to give, then you aren’t being charitable but are following the rules. Another problem was the definition of needs. At one time all we needed was shelter, clothing, and food. Today we need our own houses, brand name clothing, brand name foodstuffs, house insurance, cars, car insurance, health insurance, education, education insurance, flood insurance, and to make sure every kid has straight teeth and their ticket to a four-year college even if it isn’t in their best interest. Neither system is perfect, the difference being is that one of them is funded largely by taxes, and the other generosity. What do you think charity is?