It’s better to give than to receive.
– My mother (and possibly yours), transliterating Acts 20:35

Charity is people with more than they need, giving that ‘more’ to other people who don’t have enough.  Charity is recognizing that no matter how high you push the thermostat, you aren’t going to get more comfortable; no matter what you pay for your steak, the plate will be clean in 20 minutes; no matter how much gas your vehicle guzzles, the tank will soon be empty, and furthermore, recognizing there are plenty of other people with no heat, no food, and no way to get around – and then giving of your own time and/or money to do something about it.

Charity is sharing.

But charity is also line 19 of Schedule A, and as such, fair game for this blog.

Originally, charity was directed toward basic human need:  food and housing, and blankets in catastrophes.  (Think Katrina, or maybe Hurricane Sandy.)  Over time, those needs grew to include education and health concerns. Today, abandoned and endangered pets, barns, covered bridges, wildflowers, sea creatures, fireworks displays, trees, and art collections benefit from charitable giving as well.  Also along the way, responsibility for these needy has largely changed hands.  Yes, the government has stepped in.

Government is when someone you don’t know recognizes there are plenty of people with no heat, no food, and no way to get around – and they saddle you with the solution.  Charity is voluntary; government is not.

Hmm…  Is it obvious that this one gets to me?  Please understand.  It’s not that I want you to pay taxes!  If anything, it’s that I want you to give more freely.  Without question, we live in the richest country on the planet.  Our lower classes have it better than the middle classes in many other countries.

But what do I see at tax time?  Generally speaking, it’s those with less who give the most.  Maybe this is because the lower classes have a better understanding of the need.  Maybe this is because the upper classes see the government positioned more and more as the provider of needs for those in the lower classes.  Maybe something else.  Your call.  But as this is not intended to be a rant on government gone wild, I will confine remaining remarks to the subject of charity.  (Well, I’ll try.)

In summation, I just want to recommend that you give giving a try.  Start small.  When you realize that you lived through the experience of parting with $10 without receiving anything in return, maybe you’ll move up to $20.  But it you’re making 6 figures (or something like that), start with $100.

The next few articles will outline the do’s and don’t’s, and provide general guidance for implementing line 19 of Schedule A.  (And its equivalent on other tax forms.)

If you can’t feed a hundred people, then feed just one.  – Mother Teresa

Every man must decide whether he will walk in the light of creative altruism or in the darkness of destructive selfishness.  – Martin Luther King Jr.