Ron Jackson: Generous hearts get a shock

November 19, 2018

“Learn to light a candle in the darkest moments of someone’s life. Be the light that helps others see; it is what gives life its deepest significance.” ― — Roy T. Bennett

I never heard of the author Roy T. Bennett until I stumbled across his quotes on giving. But, the quote above reminded me of my stepdad’s philosophy on helping others — one I subscribe to.

My stepdad also said once you give something, you should never regret it.

He compared giving to releasing a balloon into the air, saying,“You let it go; it is gone.”

That lesson often was tested after giving a person some spare change because he or she said it was to buy something to eat. I learned to shrug it off and attribute it to maybe they were on a liquid diet, after watching them walk immediately into a liquor store.

His lesson of giving never has been lost. I have been the recipient of the generosity of others, mostly from those I never knew. Giving freely does make one feel good. However, life also teaches that giving sometimes must be done cautiously. As we head into our season of giving, we learn of an example of the highest form of deceit.

When first reported, the story of a homeless man giving his last $20 to help a stranded damsel in distress vaulted to possibly the feel good story of the year. According to the initial story, a young New Jersey woman ran out of gas in a bad community in Philadelphia. To her rescue came a homeless man who used his last few dollars to purchase some fuel and send her on her way to safety. So, overwhelmed by the stranger’s unreluctant generosity, the woman and her grateful husband decided to reciprocate.

The thankful couple shared their story via social media and set up a means to collect cash donations for their homeless hero.

The initial goal was to raise $20,000 for the man. Their goal was surpassed 20 times. They raised more than $400,000. That much giving does not go unnoticed.

Not long after, it was reported the thankful couple had not passed along all those blessings to the intended recipient. They assumed the role of executors and doled out some money to the homeless man as they saw fit.

They had spent a considerable amount on their personal pleasures. More of the donations never were accounted for. That was enough to put a little damper on the story. Those who gave still could feel good about giving.

Now, we know the rest of the story. The homeless man and the couple fabricated the whole story. There was no stranded woman in a bad neighborhood. Although really homeless, the homeless man did not rescue anyone. The threesome yanked on the generous hearts of thousands, all for personal gain. The money is all gone. Fortunately, they have all been charged with theft by deception and conspiracy to commit theft by deception.

Not only is this revelation a horrible case of mistrust, it is bad timing. My wife’s best friend and maid of honor in our wedding and her husband lost everything in the Paradise, Calif., fire. Their home, autos, jobs — everything but one suitcase.

Of course, my wife must help her dear friend. But, how? When she learned a crowd-sourcing account had been established in their names, it set off alarms.

She is going to help. Giving is instinctual. However, now it entails considerable thought as to exactly how. Having to think before doing it is the sad part.

There is a Nigerian proverb that says, “It is the heart that does the giving; the fingers only let go.”

Stories of mass deception makes letting go more difficult when your fingers are curled inside a balled fist of caution.

As you celebrate Thanksgiving, be aware of those celebrating Thankstaking.

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