Unhappy charity must have reward


The practice is as old and as sick as humanity: The wealthy and powerful want to rule but they want the ruled to assume as much of the cost as possible. In biblical times we had the tax gatherers, but in these latter days we have computers, the ultimate tax gatherer, which spew out endless requests for money at the same time as computerized thank yous.

Emerson, the Yankee philosopher, thought when he gave a dollar it was a "wicked dollar" because it sapped the self-reliance of the receiver. Today's gifts are even more wicked because they stain the souls not only of the receivers but of the donors. Why? Because a gift request is always accompanied by a "reward" such as self-address stickers, a meaningless membership card, tax write-off, initials carved on a brick, or a published recognition of the gift. It becomes easy to say, "They gave only because of the kick-back, however small."

Moral breakdown, widespread cynicism, contempt for all givers has been the result. We have lost the vision that informed us that true gifts come only from the heart and should be as anonymous as the widow's mite, in cash.

Randall N. Pratt


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