Monday, December 11, 2023

‘Tis the Season for Suspicion

Happy two hour delay to those of you who are celebrating!

I saw something on Facebook last night that made me think. It wasn’t a local story but it could be. The poster described seeing people return things to Walmart the day after Christmas that had clearly been given to them through an organization like Angel Tree. They did not get a cash refund but instead received Walmart gift cards in the appropriate amount. 

The poster was livid. How dare they! She then instructed people who bought items for the Angel Tree to use a black marker to deface the bar code so that the store would know it was donated. The final line of the post was, as you might expect, “Copied and Pasted.” 

So this person didn’t actually witness this, they didn’t (as far as we know) do any fact checking. They read something somewhere that sparked their outrage and - - click! - - sent it along to their circle of friends.

What’s the big deal? We know people do this all the time, right? We may have done it once our twice ourselves. Copy and paste, share the outrage.

It’s the underlying issue that bugs me. Why would people be at Walmart asking for refunds the day after Christmas in order to get gift cards? Wouldn’t it be because they have no other options? Being so poor or going through a temporary financial crisis is not a scam. It’s a tragedy. Having to cash in a bike or a sled for your kid to get food or diapers doesn’t make you a criminal. 

I would imagine it makes you feel pretty crummy inside. 

What does it feel like to have to use every possible opportunity merely to survive? Most of us have no idea. Persistent, exhausting, all-encompassing poverty with no hope of getting ahead is the scam we ought to be indignant about. Believing that it’s okay for some people to teeter on the edge of survival and that we have the right to dictate how they may receive charity - - how dare we?

This next bit is local. I saw a response to the Giving Machine on a local Facebook Group that chilled me. 

“How do we know where the money really goes?” they said.

Apparently it’s the season for suspicion. 

Give, or don’t give. Do your research into the initiatives that interest you. Chose wisely to the best of your ability and do your giving whole-heartedly. Don’t throw suspicion and judgement and controlling attitudes into the pot. You are the boss of how you give but you are not the God of how it is received. 

In some ways you might want to be grateful that you don’t fully understand what happens on the other side of that gift.

Village Green/Town² Comments

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