When I first moved to Hilton Head Island several years ago, someone complained to me that taxes from the people on Hilton Head were being used for more than the local schools.
"Our taxes fund schools all over Beaufort County, and that is just ridiculous," the person said. Being new, I didn't get into that discussion then and there because I have learned throughout my life that sometimes you just have to pick your battles. That wasn't the time nor the venue.
That being said, I have to admit the complaint has stuck with me over time. To be clear, I'm not concerned about the legitimacy of the person's argument. Actually, what bothers me most about what was said was the tone, which implied an absolute disregard and care for other people. As if it were somehow unthinkable that we actually might have a responsibility, as citizens, to care for others at the expense of our own comfort.
To me, this seems to be a growing trend in America, and it's not just among the younger generations. We seem to have come to a place where we value our happiness and comfort above doing what is good and just.
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Now, let me preface what I'm about to say by saying I don't believe we should rely on the government to fix all of our social ills. That's not the government's job, as I understand it. I am all for a small, strong, central government.
But that philosophy implies that responsible citizens were actively donating their fiscal means and time to a host of civic organizations in order to help better our society. And frankly, I just don't see that happening.
If concerned citizens aren't willing to actively give their time and talents to organizations that better our world on a consistent and regular basis, why should we assume the government will not, or should not, get bigger?
Personally, I have no problem with tithing 10 percent of my income to civic organizations that I know change the hearts and lives of people. Do I pay taxes in addition to that 10 percent? Yes. Do I want to? Not really. But do I understand the necessity of doing so? Absolutely.
Like most people, I don't agree with what the government spends my tax dollars on most of the time, but until enough people are willing to contribute to the civic good to show that we don't need the government's involvement in those areas, there is no legitimate argument to say the government shouldn't be involved.
And honestly, I have grown tired with pundits on both sides of the aisle who talk about how bad the government is, when all they do is complain. If you're really sick of the government's involvement in our lives, get out and help those who are trying to better the world.
When we have eliminated poverty, when we have provided people with care for their health, when all people have the opportunity for a good education, when homelessness and hunger are eradicated, when pollution is no longer a concern, when crime is universally unaccepted and shunned, when people are universally shown love, then come and get me, and I'll march with you to Washington and demand that they stop taxing us.
But until then, my suggestion is to either get out and get helping, or stop complaining and pay your taxes. In short, our greed isn't becoming of us as Americans.
The Rev. Christopher Benek is the associate pastor of family ministries at Providence Presbyterian Church. Read his blog at www.christopherbenek.com.