The Choice is Ours: Austerity or Shared Bounty

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by
Common Dreams

The Choice is Ours: Austerity or Shared Bounty

by
Joyce Walker

For all I have gained as the result of my financial struggles, I consider myself blessed. You might wonder how I can say that, when, at the end of December, I’m still working with my winterizing kit, consisting of staple gun, duct tape, and cardboard, trying to insulate against the air leaks that drive my heating bill up. But because of my hardships, I have become more sensitive to the hard times many around me are facing, and feel compelled to share what little I have.

Because of incessant increases in the cost of living, I sometimes have a hard time meeting my expenses. Still, I am more fortunate than some lacking adequate food or shelter because the people setting standards don’t consider them deserving or needy enough to receive help. But thanks partly to the fidelity of family and friends, I am able to keep food enough to share with a few others also struggling to make ends meet.

I’ve learned that a gift doesn’t have to be big to be appreciated. Beans and cornbread are among my most welcomed treats. On my part, toilet tissue and paper towels have been especially appreciated. Such food and household staples may be of immense assistance, especially to someone trying to help others along.

Some people say they fear that the extreme cutbacks being pushed by austerity proponents will cause outbreaks of violence in our communities. Although that could possibly occur, recent crises, such as natural disasters, have proven that the dominant response is a large scale effort to help suffering others.

Another positive influence which will most likely come into play with increases in austerity cuts is the longstanding tradition in many parts of the country of individual outreach, without consideration of worthiness, to anyone needing help. A well known country music star in a documentary about financial struggles of people of Appalachia recalled a time when countless numbers of families could be seen traveling on foot down country roads, having lost their livelihood and all they owned, and his parents feeding those who came their way.

As a girl, I saw an elder couple in my family dispense this same courtesy to neighbors experiencing difficult times. My great-aunt cooked two meals a day, breakfast and dinner, the remains of which was covered and served for supper in the evening. Any visitors were invited to a sit a down meal, while our family stood back. Although I didn’t understand why, I learned that our supper consisted of that which was left by our guests; however, I don’t remember a time that we failed to have enough.

An elderly friend shared a childhood memory of having received a seemingly small gift which had a big impact. When visiting a neighbor, she was given a piece of fat meat. That seemed a stingy gift to me until the woman explained that her mother had no fat for frying, and how important it made her feel to bring home the piece of fat.

Charitable giving borne out of love is healing. Let us turn our backs on the selfish political maneuvers of greedy politicians and reach out helping hands to the suffering among us. We can start today by carrying a small gift of love to a friend or relative, or even a stranger, whose hardship has touched our hearts. Once we lay aside the suspicion that divides us, we can say with a pure heart, “God bless America in 2014.”

Joyce Walker is a retired senior living in a small town in Tennessee who would like to see the power of austerity defeated.

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