“What unites us is much greater than what divides us.” - Pope John XXIII
Life can seem easier when we label and compartmentalize. You are this; I am that; this is good; that is bad. But nothing breaks down those compartment walls like suffering. It crystallizes our shared humanity in a way that nothing else does.
We reveal our generous, open and compassionate nature at levels that seemed previously unlikely. And yet, these qualities are always there within us. They are the strong and powerful forces we all possess, at all times, that can be released in a moment’s notice to aid those in need.
We are good even without tragedy. Here’s proof: America is the world’s most generous nation -- year, over year, over year. Tragedies, elections, protests and the like do not change this about the American people. Our citizens give more to charity than anyone else in the world. Take a moment for that to soak in.
Well, it’s probably our big companies, right? Tech, oil and retail giants must give us a huge lead in international giving numbers. Nope. YOU do. It’s you and me. Individual Americans are twice as generous as individuals in the next most generous country -- New Zealand.
According to Giving USA 2017: The Annual Report on Philanthropy, “As in previous years, the majority of giving came from individuals. Specifically, individuals gave $281.86 billion, accounting for 72% of all giving.”
Well, is this because we make more money or maybe because we pay less in taxes? No. It’s not that either.
As Adam Pickering, international policy manager at Charities Aid Foundation, says: "Across the 24 nations we studied, we found no significant link between government spending, income or corporation tax and the proportion of GDP donated by individuals.” He goes on to say the factors that make Americans give more is “incredibly complex.”
And furthermore, this number in no way factors in the 32 hours a year, on average, that each American gives in volunteer time. Time is money and our given time as Americans has been valued of $173 billion.
We don’t need to suffer to come together, but it does almost always bring out the best in people. Yes, when we suffer as a nation, we unite, come together, and help one another. But we also do it day in and out. We are a strong nation -- strong wills, strong tongues, strong hearts. And together we stand strong.
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