Friends of ours in South Dakota had a son who was severely injured in a rodeo accident. The family had to go to a different state for surgery and rehabilitation treatment for several weeks. When it was time to harvest their crops farmers throughout their community drove their combines and tractors to the family’s farm and worked thru the night to see that their friend’s crop was brought in. Our friends didn’t demand that their neighbors help them and the government didn’t force anyone to do all that extra work. Our friends were touched and grateful, and they personally thanked their neighbors for their generosity.
There are several groups of healthcare workers from the US that travel to other countries to perform procedures on children and adults that aren’t otherwise available to them. These workers donate their time and money to these patients, no one is forcing them to do it; there are no government mandates.
Why do people donate their precious time and hard-earned money? Because there is a certain sense of fulfillment, of self-worth, of accomplishment when we are able to help someone in need. One of the unique blessings of being a physician is the warm connection that comes from helping a patient during a difficult time; and having them sincerely thank you. It is the interplay of giving and showing thanks that makes charity such a symbiotic experience.
Think about this when you hear about increasing welfare programs, Obamaphones, advertisements for food stamps, and the class warfare of the haves and have-nots. When the government acts as the middleman between giver and recipient, there is no charity, no volunteering, no connection, no sense of fulfillment, and there is definitely no “thank you”. Instead, there is manipulation, entitlement and fraud; taxes instead of donations; coercion replaces empathy; government replaces humanity. I wonder how our country would be if everyone receiving a government check had to stand face-to-face with a taxpayer and say “Thank You”.