In my more cynical moments as a parent, I remind my three boys that the handy American societal axiom of “the haves and have-nots” is too quaint, too weak.
Replace that with “givers and takers,” I tell them, and you have a more accurate view of who among us has more — and how a lot of them got it.
I’m still a bit cynical, but unlike many cynics I’m not going to shake my head knowingly and sit on my hands. I propose we do something about it.
I have an optimistic, starry-eyed idea that certainly won’t eliminate the problem of too many predatory takers in our midst. But it might just help a little.
Here goes, with an asterisk:
Each of us* should find one person to look out for, someone who needs some measure of comfort. Not just one dose, but a steady regimen over the long haul.
(*I’m excluding people whose jobs and/or other obligations demand that they give of themselves day in and day out, often causing them to neglect their own well-being.)
For the rest of us, how about finding one person who could use a little kindness? There are plenty of worthy candidates. An elderly neighbor. A former colleague who’s sick or going through a rough time. An old friend whose spouse has died. A person with a disability, or someone who cares for a family member with a disability. (Who cares for the caregiver, after all?)
Try to do this more than once or twice. Keep at it, even when life gets in the way. It doesn’t have to be anything formal, or a scheduled commitment. But if there’s a free moment, pick up the phone or stop by unannounced. Send an old-fashioned card or letter.
My apologies if this seems preachy. I certainly didn’t intend that. But following the belief that the best way to counter a bad idea is with a good idea, I figure the antidote for takers is givers. Lots of them.