We have changed ourselves as a country and as a people when we think that the social safety net MUST come from government. When my grandparents came to Lynn in 1904 they came to a community that took them in and shared responsibility for them. If a kid was misbehaving, the first adult in the neighborhood to it would pass that information on to the parent. If someone was struggling their family was invited to dinner. Simple concepts that are rarely practiced any more.
Charity does more than help the recipient -- it integrates the giver into the community. We learn more about ourselves and our communities through our own acts of charity. In particular we learn that our society is not as hopeless as the doomsayers would have us believe. If we can all find a way to be a little more involved and have a closer relationship with our neighbors, we would find that we can solve more problems.
Sadly, some people would rather wash their hands of the responsibilities of humanity. When I hear people say "that's what I pay taxes for" as an excuse to look the other way -- it bothers me. There's a lot about our system that can be remedied if we can just work a little bit at being good towards each other and finding a way to be give of ourselves.
And that's what bothered me about this story. I think there is a concerted effort by some to make the social safety net be solely the responsibility of government. This doesn't work because government is whimsical. Today's charity is tomorrows pariah with a new majority in power. Republicans won't allow government funds to Democratic causes and vice versa.
But hopefully our hearts ARE constant. Where people want to step up and engage in charity, we should not punish them.