Catholic Diocese of Spokane, Washington
Official News Magazine of the Diocese of Spokane
P.O. Box 48, Spokane WA 99210
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Editorial: By others, by God
by Deacon Eric Meisfjord, Editor, Inland Register
(From the Oct. 2, 2003 edition of the Inland Register)
It works better when we share. It works better when we think about things like the common good. And then live that common good.
Too often, we cling to this false memory of personal achievement, of the triumphant individual (a triumph of the will?), over a sense of the greater good. Personal aggrandizement trumping personal sacrifice for something greater than ourselves.
For instance, it is bothersome to read and hear people insisting that donating to various charitable organizations and services somehow is a bad idea. That taxation somehow is a bad idea. That taxes simply support those too lazy to support themselves. That public servants are thieves in nice clothes Ė certainly nicer than those of people who actually work for a living.
Just as we have to be taught to hate, so we have to be taught to share. Thatís probably one of the reasons why we learn about sharing at such an early age. Unfortunately, the inclination against it Ė and itís a pretty strong inclination Ė rears up in adults as well. ďItís my money. I earned it. I should be able to do anything I want with it. If somebody else doesnít want to work and wants to let their kids starve, thatís not my problem. Why should I support them? If I didnít support them theyíd be forced to go get jobs and work like I do. Itíd be a win-win.Ē
The problem with that argument is that itís fundamentally flawed. We donít earn anything. Everything in life is a gift from God. You woke up this morning? Itís a gift. Your legs worked? A gift. You know your way around a computer keyboard, or a forklift, or a combine? The brains and the reflexes and the muscles and tendons and synapses that make those things possible, theyíre all gifts.
Itís all a gift. Life and health and love. Intelligence and talent and ability. Determination and strength and success. Itís all a gift, straight from God to you. (Side note: It wouldnít hurt, from time to time, to say thank you, now would it?)
Itís not a matter of pulling ourselves up by our bootstraps; itís also a matter of being in a place where boots are available to us. Things like education, and loving parents, and an extended community that helps see to it we get to that point where we in turn can do the same for others.
The whole idea of community is not just our parishes, not just our neighborhoods. Itís all of us. The community gets bigger every year, every day, all the time, as we discover more and more bonds between cultures, between peoples, nations, continents.
Those bonds donít lessen us. They donít sap us. They reinforce the face that nobody makes it alone. Leave a newborn human baby on a rock somewhere and unlike most members of the animal kingdom, that baby will die. None of us reaches maturity alone, without help. (Not even Tarzan and Mowgli did it alone.)
Itís all a gift. God does not bless us with life and health and intelligence, to whatever degree, so that we can Get Ours and protect It from Them. Itís so that we can help others. Just as we have been helped. From infancy. By others. By God.