Friday, December 28, 2007

Gifts No Longer Accepted

Have you noticed that in this day in age in the United States you can't just give a small gift to someone out of the kindness of your heart? Recently, while at a doctor's office, Kasi, who loves to share and give, tried giving the doctor a small something. The doctor said that their policy does not permit them to accept gratuities. This is not the first time we have run into this either.

Last summer, our washing machine needed repair. It was hot. Our repair man was a big guy. After watching him get up and down off the floor working on our washing machine, sweating and breathing heavy, Alea brought him a glass of water. He refused, stating the same policy. (I did wonder in my highly sarcastic mind if he would refuse the gratuity of a payout from our homeowners policy if he had a heart attack while working on my machine)

It really makes me wonder what our society is coming to, when out of fear of lawsuits and unfair treatment, people are not permitted to accept a kindness from another. Where do you have to look to see and learn about unconditional love? What lesson are my children learning when their kindnesses are repeatedly refused? Will they keep trying to issue them, or just quit trying?

This problem seems to be limited mostly to the United States. In other parts of the world tokens of kindness are accepted regularly, and a barter system is still in place. But we are all living in fear of being sued. We are a litigating country. People hungry for money and the 'American dream' will sue for anything. For them, winning a lawsuit is akin to winning the lottery.

And what about the barter system? This country was founded on the barter system. People without money could often purchase goods and services in exchange for goods or services they could provide. A sick child could receive medical care in exchange for food, or sewing, or some such thing. Money, although useful, was not entirely necessary. We have almost eliminated that from our society. We have made is so you must always have money. No money - no service! Which, of course, means you never have enough money. So people work longer hours, and take on more jobs.

What kind of society will eventually emerge if small kindnesses are eliminated entirely? If behavior is learned, people will never learn to be kind to others. Apathy will replace sympathy. We see stories in the news of people being in peril, and others just standing by and watching, unwilling to step in and lend a hand. We are feeding that type of behavior. In time, will unconditional love only exist for mothers and their babies. Or will that too begin to fade?

You hear all too often, 'you can't get something for nothing'. We, the skeptics, are always looking for the attached strings. Has it always been that way? Or is that something we have learned recently? A behavior that we have learned in response to all these policies?

In order to truly grow as a society, not in size, but to experience real positive growth, we need to reestablish a sense of community. And this will never happen unless we begin teaching our children, and ourselves, that kindness is a good and acceptable thing. And that there is more to life than money.


Lindsey @ Enjoythejourney said...

Just so you know...that gift bag of goodies you gave me last week was MUCH appreciated and blessed my socks right off my feet!

Starr said...

I know how you feel, Natalie. I have felt the Holy Spirit several times prompt me to give someone something and I have failed at obeying because of the fear that it will not be accepted. That makes me very sad. I guess I should try anyway, and if I am refused, then at least I tried. All summer long I watched every day as I passed by PPG. There were two men who, day after miserable day, painted the entire chain link fence that surrounds the property; A VERY large property. Every day, for weeks and weeks, I would get that "Spirit nudge" to go get them a snack or a huge drink from a fast food joint just as a gesture of kindness for their labor. I felt kinda sorry for them working in such intense heat and doing such an impossible looking task. But, I was afraid of what their response would be. They probably would have thought I was crazy! My husband probably would have even thought I was crazy!
It is such a disgrace that we are in a society where we are always second-guessing our gestures of kindness for fear of how we will be received. I'm not sure what to do about it, but I guess obeying God's leading no matter how "crazy" we may appear to be is a good place to start, huh?
At least you and your girls are stepping out, even if people are too ignorant to receive. ( I mean that in the nicest way, of course!)


Anne-Marie said...

I've been turned down for gift giving lately as well. It's a total bummer since I love giving gifts and because of my job, I have lots of goodies to share (handmade soap anyone?). It's certainly a disapointment to not be able to share with others because of legalistic rules designed to protect against frivilous lawsuits.

Michelle said...

I agree, times have certainly changed. I noticed it at the grocery store. I wanted to tip our bagger and they no longer accept that sort of thing either (policy). Or if you give something to someone just "because" and they think you "want" something from them. Empathy is also very hard to find. It has almost become "every man for himself" :(