Q: A lot of my good friends are involved with charitable groups and volunteer for great organizations in our community, but I’ve got little kids and I’m already feeling spread too thin. Am I a bad person for not being more charitable?
A: You know, the quote “Charity begins at home” has been batted around for centuries, so much so, that folks erroneously believe it’s a Bible verse. It’s not. Even so, it’s still a good bit of business. It’s even better if you can wrap your head and heart around the true meaning of it. But, cupcake … let’s get something straight — being charitable isn’t just about coins from your wallet or the sweat of your brow. Donating time and money is wonderful. In fact, charity is often defined as “one who voluntarily gives help, typically in the form of money, to those in need.” My pals at Merriam-Webster also beautifully add that charity involves “benevolent goodwill toward, or love of, humanity.” That, right there, is what charity truly is, because it has been my experience that donating time and/or money doesn’t make a person good. In fact, some of the biggest knuckleheads on this planet have photos of their smiling faces from charity events on lots of walls, both physical and internetical (a word found in my head, not the dictionary), showing the world how charitable they can be. That doesn’t make them good people and, in turn, if you don’t follow their exact lead, it doesn’t mean you’re a bad person.
You must begin the process within the four walls of your home. Because no matter how wonderful the gooey center of your own heart is, or how great your children’s school might be at teaching the Character Counts program, good vs. bad begins at home. Charity and the love of humanity begins with your babies and that means baby steps. Think about it. Love, in general, has to start somewhere and, more often than not, it starts small. Amiright? Sure, love at first sight might actually be a thing, but in the real world, real love usually starts with awkward conversation, followed by some time at a table having coffee/lunch/dinner, before it grows into something more meaningful.
So, start some conversations at home and you may find yourself building some goodwill toward mankind right there from your kitchen table with some help from those little hands of the human beans you helped create! How? Well, ask a non-profit group if you could offer a smidge of assistance, maybe folding fliers or event programs or stuffing envelopes. You could pick a local group or cause and have your kids decorate a special box to hold coins they collect just for that, choosing a special drop-off date. Gather cans and boxes of food from friends and neighbors to donate to the food pantry. Kids learn what they live and giving of your time from a good heart teaches them what’s at the core of charity. SO good!
xo – t.