Where does charity begin for you?

Published 9:00 am Thursday, June 23, 2011

Charity begins at home.

It’s a saying to keep in mind, especially during difficult economic times.

A couple of weeks ago, I began purging my closet of clothes I wasn’t in need of anymore. One by one, each item went into a big plastic bag for donation.

There is a huge disparity between the now and then generations, especially in the United States and especially when it comes to charitable deeds.

The generation that my grandparents were a part of was filled with patriotism and ideas that working hard is a necessity (and will build good character). Those cornerstones of the American society are ostensibly long gone.

That generation has been replaced with my generation, which has a more internationally conscience mind (thanks to the Internet) and, unfortunately, only has a handful of those who still hold up the “hard working” value, while others choose to have their share handed to them all at the expense of their fellow Americans.

Don’t get me wrong, I think we all should be responsive of what is going on in other countries and there should be charity and assistance for those who truly need it. But when the two combine, my generation outwardly appears to be only concerned with the world rather than what’s happening in their own neighborhood and nation.

To lean on the crutch of celebrity superficiality for a moment, I recently picked up a magazine bearing the mug of an actor I like.

I couldn’t help it. I was in the need of some “eye-candy” and there he was with his brooding expression, come hither stare and let me tell you about my trip to the Congo headline.

It was your typical article about taking a cute actor, dumping him in the middle of a really poor country to shed light on the atrocities that go along with civil unrest and, oh, by the way, he went with this particular international charitable organization: SEND A CHECK TO THEM!

While the article was interesting, in the end it didn’t move me to tears, nor did it make me want to give to those in the Congo. Instead it made me wonder why this actor didn’t go to the poorest region of his own country, the United States. Have the needs of his own people never been brought to his attention? Why do rich Americans have such a resistance when it comes to giving to their own community?

I agree Americans have it easy compared to those in the Congo, after all we live in a superpower country and our government (as crazy and unfair as it is) is stable and we can sleep at night knowing we’re not going to be killed for believing differently from others (or at least I think we can).

I believe Americans should help the international community, but at the same time, let me write it again, charity begins at home.

When it comes down to it, there are neighbors who need your help, whether it be the child who needs a new jacket or the senior living on a fixed income who just needs some company and daily hot meal.

Amanda VanDerBroek is a Staff Writer for the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald. For comments and column suggestions email: amanda.vanderbroek@r-cnews.com or call (252) 332-7209.