I have always been impressed with the mentality of the Mormons with respect to the issue of charity. I had a tour of their main charity facilities, and was amazed at what I saw and learned. There are absolutely no handouts – they barter!
Here’s how it works: if you could lose your home, or if you need food, clothing, medicine or toys for your children, the Church takes financial care of your needs. In exchange, you provide services to the very mechanism that rescued you. This means that folks in the bakeries are people who have benefited from the charitable services; those helping in the stores that sell thrift clothing, housewares and food are those who have benefited from the charitable services, and so on.
The basic concept is to preserve a sense of dignity and pride in those who have temporary need by giving them an opportunity to use their skills in the service of others. Walking around the premises, I felt the uplifted attitude of all who were there: smiles, waves, and straight backs.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints provides for people all over the world – not only with goods and goodwill, but with the opportunity to not lose a sense of self when “things” are lost.
I probably sound like an advertisement for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I am not a member of their religion, but I am impressed with their charitable philosophy, because I believe it teaches our children their real value, while motivating and uplifting them at the same time.
Their young people who graduate high school are expected to go on two-year “missions,” reminiscent of the Peace Corps. These young people come back much more mature, as they’ve experienced the pain and need of others, and have sacrificed two years of their own comfort to be of service to others.
Other youngsters just don’t want to skip a beat in their acquisition of iPods, cell phones, and other “Internet in your hand” gadgets.
I believe that the economic disaster our country is in right now is a kind of blessing in disguise with respect to values. Without values, life just provides us with “things,” but not necessarily with any profound meaning.