Is it a question of privilege?

That's what I find myself asking sometimes when I see someone who, even if they're not rich and don't have the easiest of lives, complaining that someone worse off than them is getting something that, in their minds, they don't deserve.

karlhans via Compfight

Last night it was someone I know who was wondering why poor people in New York City deserved to have free access to the internet when he had to pay for it here in central New York.

Days ago it was someone complaining because someone they didn't know was going to qualify for full subsidies so they could have health care while this person, who worked and, though they had health care through their employer, griped that because he had a job and had to contribute to his own health coverage that it was an unfair handout he was paying for through his taxes.

Is this what we've become America, a selfish country that has to pound on someone who has less than what you have, for whatever reason, to make yourself feel better?

I'm not writing from a position of being high and mighty by the way. I'm someone who, on another blog a couple of years ago, asked if we should donate money to charity after all. However, in that context I was talking about all the different charities that come to our door or call us on the phone asking for money when we have no idea who they are or whether or not they're legitimate.

I also cringe whenever I encounter people who are begging for money, especially people standing by the road with their signs. In a way, it's both a kind of pressure to help and a wonder if they're legitimately poor and in need, especially where I live, in the suburbs, where the only way they could have gotten there was either by taking the bus or having someone drop them off.

Still, I'm not one who begrudges anyone for anything that someone is willing to give them to help them live a better life, even if it's only a little bit better. I don't begrudge people who make a lot of money that someone else might think they don't deserve, so it makes little sense to go in the other direction either.

Bangladesh, Ramadan 2011.
IHH Humanitarian Relief
via Compfight

I tend to believe that a true leader finds ways to help when they can. So, even though I don't always give money to people who are begging for it on the street (sometimes I do, and sometimes I've even paid for a meal for someone who's asking for money for food), and even though I don't give money to every charity that asks for it, I do my part.

For instance, I'm a board member of an organization called Arise locally, which works with and advocates for the disabled, and I've been with them for almost 13 years. When Wegmans, our local grocery chain, has the tickets out where you can donate a little bit more money that goes towards helping to feed people I'll often pull a ticket and ask them to scan it. I do contribute to charities of people I know and trust, and most of the time if I'm around I'll buy the Girl Scout cookies (hey, that counts... lol).

In my opinion, true leadership is helping to take care of others when they can't take care of themselves for one reason or another. If they're not even trying to help themselves, even after you've tried to help them, that's another matter entirely; sometimes you have to let them go.

Otherwise, that's my belief. I'll continue trying to do what I can, when I can, but I'll never expect that anyone else has to do anything for anyone if they don't want to. After all, we all have a right to do or not do whatever our mood is, especially when we've worked for our money.

I'll also call people out whenever they're intentionally putting someone down just because they're getting help. That type of thing helps no one, and only fosters bad feelings all around.

Of course, that's my belief; do you agree or disagree?