As a human being, I am touched at the virtues that Shirley Sherrod came to embrace. I am thankful that her lesson is the one we are talking about instead of the divisive stories of racial finger-pointing and accusations. While Ms. Sherrod admits that she saw the destitute farmer as “a white man” who wasn’t deserving of her efforts, the ultimate lesson is that she realized how wrong that fleeting thought was and took steps to overcome such feelings. She is an example of how the heart can soar when it is freed from the bonds of hatred and ill-will. I read a letter in my local paper by Ms. Etsil Mason of Farmville who wrote of Ms. Sherrod’s speech. Aside from her message of overcoming personal racial biases, Ms. Sherrod went on to say that if you have “made it,” then you must reach back to help others behind you. Her message echoes the same one delivered by Shirley Chisholm. The thrust of Ms. Mason’s letter was that we should embrace the notion of helping others once we have “made it.”
Indeed, charity is a wonderful thing and the God that teaches us to live our lives as Jesus did, in service and with charity towards our fellow human beings, certainly smiles when we live our lives with such dedication.
My problem is when our government tries to get into the business of legislating charity. As a citizen of a nation that was founded on fundamental liberties, including the right to property and the pursuit of happiness, and the Equal protection of such by our government, as well the notion that government is to remain unobtrusive in our lives, I condemn our government for trying to regulate this noble and “religious” quality by mandatorily taking so much from some and giving it to others. It is abhorrent to me that our government tries to do an end run on an inherent human quality through laws designed to achieve a redistribution of wealth and comfort. According to Thomas Jefferson, intellectual achievements, choice of career, and business reputation, including the successes that come with each, are all examples of one’s property and are to be protected and not re-distributed.
Let charity flow from the heart, where it was meant to derive.