It is fascinating to see the generosity of those considered poor by middle-class white America. A few weeks ago, three guys from the dorm and I were able to help a woman named Karen pack her possessions into a U-Haul. Her want was apparent from the scratched table standing above merely functional chairs, the tired oil on canvas paintings lining the walls, the four DirecTV satellite boxes. Looking in her eyes, you saw the years of hardship. Not desperation, not a plea for pity, just the realities of living with financial insecurity. The four of us walked up to her small rented house. She smiled with true appreciation, said “I feel like the soldiers are coming!” I realized then, that we weren’t just giving up an hour and a half of our time. We were making a difference in the life of someone who truly needed help. We were a true incarnation of Christ to her. At the end of the night, Karen tried to pay us. I was expecting forty dollars. Minimum wage for an hour and a half of unskilled labor, a typical middle-class token gift. No. Karen held outstretched in her hand one hundred and twenty dollars. My pupils dilated when I saw her generosity. She could not have afforded to pay us such. One hundred and twenty dollars could buy two weeks of groceries. Christmas for her three grandchildren. A new dress and shoes for her daughter’s birthday. Rather, she wanted to give it to us. I do not know her motive. Did she desire to seem less poor than she indeed was? Was it an intense pride desiring us to see her as better off than her worldly possessions indicated? Perhaps. But she did desire to give it. We protested. Told her we could not take it, would not take it. She refused to let us leave without the money. Told us to respect our elders. I took the money. She began talking to one of the other guys. I went into the cab of the truck and placed the money under her television sitting in the passenger seat. We couldn’t take the money. She needed it. Did we do what was right by giving her back the money? I don’t know. Was I wrong for not respecting her desires? She wanted to give us the money. We did not want to take it. Did I need to take it to respect her pride or honest heart giving in gratitude? The fact is, she needed the money. I did what I thought to be right in the moment. At any rate, the one thing which stuck in my mind throughout this, was the overwhelming generosity displayed by Karen. For one reason or another, she was willing to give up much of what she had in order to thank us. What would it be like if middle white America was as generous as she?


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: