I bought a new car yesterday. It's nice. There is nothing wrong with my old car, in fact, it runs better than ever. Low mileage. I didn't trade it in and I'm not selling it. It's eleven years old, and frankly, I am just sick to death of driving the same car I've been driving for eleven years. So I tooled up to my house in a Toyota with 23,000 miles on it, and took my husband for a ride. (I get the selling ploy of getting me to take the car for a day and bond with it.) Surprised me, my husband loved the car and gave me a positive signal that we should buy it. So I did. Usually when parting with cold hard cash (or years of debt financing), my husband is the ultimate doomsday predictor and veto checker. Unless its something HE really wants. Like a new rifle.
I'm amazed at how easy it is in America to obtain credit. I am, after all, retired and making about half the money I used to make. Oh well. My income tax statements must look good thanks to my husband's amazing earning ability, and I do pay my bills on time. Whatever. Let's keep the middle class in debt! So, after priding myself on a shopping trip to Chicago where I (or my husband) paid cash for everything, I came home and spent $17,000. On credit. Yikes.
Regardless, the point of this story is not about keeping the middle class in debt, the point is helping out people who are doing their best to survive in this economy against tremendous odds stacked against them.
I have a niece who works very hard to support her two sons and do the best she can as a single mother. Baby Daddy took a self-absorbed hike and she's on her own. There is some familial support in terms of child care and transportation, but certainly no financial support. She goes to work everyday in a stable government job, that provides her and her children with needed benefits, but not a terribly large salary. This sounds so familiar to me. Deja vu. I had to do the same thing. I remembered how I struggled, and how I was constantly put down by my dysfunctional family. Not a bit of help from them for me or my kids. Not even an invite to an occasional dinner. But that's just who they are......general knobs. They are all graduates of the school of thought "You Deserve It". My biggest question is are they, finally, also getting what they deserve for having that attitude? I don't believe in a system of bad people getting bad things and good people getting goodies. I know too many wealthy A$$es. I do believe in karma and lessons to be learned. I am content with my karmic road. I wonder if my family is content with theirs? I wonder if their general unhappiness is even remotely connected, in their minds, to their absolutely horrifying behaviors.
So, I decided to give my eleven year old Jetta to my niece, who is driving her mother's older car, who in turn is driving an even older car that borders on road-worthy. Now I do have other people in my life who would have wanted that car, grandchildren for example. But my grandchildren are young and have years to attain driving skills and cars. My niece needs the help right now.
I wonder how my life would have changed had someone given me a decent vehicle when my children were tots. Something that didn't break down constantly. Something I could drive further than the grocery store without fear. Something I could have taken a road trip in and gotten away from the trials and tribulations of my daily life in this grinding city. I was thirty-three years old before I could afford to buy myself a decent car. At that point, the kids were finishing middle school. Still, it was such a relief. I drove that Toyota to 200,000 miles and then gave it to someone who needed it. (Ironically - my niece's father.)
So when you are faced with good fortune and blessings, think about how it was when you were faced with troubles and money woes. Reach out and help someone. Do something nice for someone and leave your crazy assessments and judgments of another person's life on the side of the road, where they belong. Not one person in my family ever asked me about my life - they just decided I was wrong about everything and treated me accordingly. Don't do that. You don't know JACK about another person's life unless you ask them. Don't assume anything. Do something to help. If we all are busy helping each other, maybe we can all stop hurting each other.
Wouldn't that make the world a better place?