The Special Joy Of Giving
“To everything there is a season…and a time for every purpose under heaven.” – Ecclesiastes 3:1
This well-known quote has stood timeless among so many thousands of seasons of change. In a time that for those of us seeking clarity in a time of seemingly constant change, this simple, but eloquent statement, gives us all an opportunity to put our lives in perspective.
While it is easy in our contemporary society to be consumed by the daily grind of life, for many this is a special time of year to reflect on a more meaningful understanding of both our individual and collective purpose.
With time, and experience, it becomes clear that life is about choices. And this is particularly true as it relates to financial resources and economic security. Being self-sufficient and supporting our families being paramount but, in addition, finding ways to serve the greater good.
We are all part of the larger community, whether we realize it or not. The quality of so many aspects of our lives is based on the actions, decisions, and circumstances of so many who we will likely never know. We see it every day at the Community Foundation – the selfless acts of individuals sharing what they have to help someone else. Volunteers ringing the bell for the Red Kettle Campaign, adopting families in need for Christmas or serving warm meals to hungry neighbors. Generous souls dropping dollars in the Red Kettle, making contributions to their favorite charities, or helping a friend or family member who has fallen on hard times. We make the difference for each other in our community.
We are fortunate that at this time every year, regardless of our diversity of faiths, ethnic origins, or cultural identity, we all have an opportunity to do our part to make a difference in the lives of others in our community. This time of year is seen by many as the “The Giving Season.” The spirit of sharing our time, energy and resources to do something nice for someone else. As a child, we greatly enjoy the act of receiving – embodied by the act of sitting on Santa’s lap and listing all the things we “need” and want. As we mature, the focus of the season shifts to helping to make other’s holiday brighter at home, in our extended families and in our community.
With so many ways to make an impact, how do you go about deciding where your charitable gift should go or how to start? May I suggest you start by thinking about the causes that matter to you? The needs of others on the Lower Shore are incredibly diverse and timeless. But we can be grateful that in our region there are so many outstanding, dedicated and effective nonprofit organizations that meet these needs and more, each and every day.
The Giving Season gives every one of us a wonderful opportunity and yes, quite possibly, a responsibility to make a difference to enhance the greater good throughout our community — our extended family. Don’t let this time pass without experiencing the special joy, we may all share —- through charitable giving.
(The writer is the president of the Community Foundation of the Eastern Shore.)
Let Deaths Not Be In Vein
Half a century ago, our families were sustained by their guaranteed rights and liberties under the law. Although families were independent, they were interconnected by common goals and beliefs. The family unit was stable with only 5% whites and 16% blacks in single parent families, and with very little federal assistance. After 50 years and twenty trillion dollars of government spending, albeit well-intended, the family has been eviscerated. Today 42% of all families are unmarried or single parent, the breakdown is 28.5% whites, and 53% Hispanics and 74% blacks. Single parent families and unwed mothers are a formula for poverty. A consequence of this obliteration of the traditional family is the heroin and opioid epidemic ravaging the nation and worsening by the day.
The movement of rights and liberties over 50 years from the family to the state correlates directly with the precipitous decline of family autonomy, which was the backbone of America. This can only change by returning ill-gotten rights and liberties taken by the state, as well as the corresponding decision making and ascendancy back to the family, where it belongs.
As the historic strength of the family to provide and care for its members has declined, the powers of government have increased. Today many families are powerless and dysfunctional as they cede their rights and liberties to government in exchange for transfer payments. Often their rights are merely taken without offset.
State privacy laws are driving a wedge into families and disconnecting parents from information regarding destructive or addictive behaviors by family members until the problems become chronic and are no longer hidden from the parents. Federal privacy laws, HIPPA and FERPA, are hastening the family’s demise.
The government is near bankruptcy today, yet 52 percent of all Americans are receiving government assistance and are dependent and needy. The harder the politicians work on the heroin/opioid epidemic the worse the epidemic as well as dependency become.
In 2015, there were 55,403 overdose deaths, a record. Heroin/opioid overdoses are driving this epidemic with 33,091 deaths. In Maryland in 2015, we lost 3.4 people a day to overdose deaths. During the first half of 2016, it has worsened with heroin deaths increasing 70% and Fentanyl deaths up 243% — over five people are dying every day! Four out of five heroin users start by misusing painkillers.
When at war, we have a defined enemy that is threatening our existence, yet today the enemy is stealth, it is evident in our disconnectedness, a false reliance on distant institutions, or a series of government imposed constraints, such as privacy. Yes, today the enemy is of our own creation. No society can be great when it tolerates a hideous heroin/opioid epidemic that slaughters its young adults. Federal intervention through unconstitutional federal privacy laws have deprived families of needed information to act affirmatively and left many families powerless to deal with the onslaught.
We should discard bad federal privacy laws and return to “In Loco Parentis” by instructing all adults particularly in education and medicine to inform the parents or guardians when young adults are practicing addictive or destructive behaviors. Critical information must promptly pass to the family about their family member, independent of age. This will allow parents to intervene before the behavior becomes chronic or worse yet the overdose.
The federal government’s restriction on information of traditional family matters has greatly contributed to the present spiral of death, largely among young adults, that has reached epidemic proportions today. Repelling this bad federal law is a necessary start to the return of integrity, liberty and rights to the family.
We take increased devotion from these youthful deaths for which they gave the last full measure to alert us that things must change. Can we afford our deafness to that cry? Must not we admit that the 50-year government experiment and the $20 trillion in debt has caused the families’ demise and hence is not the cure? God willing we have the strength to effect change. That these dead shall not have died in vain. The nation requires a new birth of freedom, restoration of these personal rights will allow that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.