Tyrades! By Danny Tyree
If you're like most people, you get a warm holiday glow from donating to a Toys For Tots program, tossing money into the Salvation Army kettle or shoveling the snowy sidewalk of a neighborhood widow.
But to a large extent, churches, civic groups and individuals are merely treating the symptoms with their Christmas charity. There are things we can do 365 days a year to get at the root causes of poverty and helplessness.
Yes, as an adult, that baby in the manger assured us, "The poor you will always have with you." Sometimes bad things happen to good people. And sadly, "you just can't help some (self-destructive) people." But certainly there are lots of little long-term and short-term measures to decrease the number of people who wind up needing Christmas charity.
If you could refrain from speeding, texting while driving, driving under the influence and exhibiting road rage, you just might prevent a horrific accident. One or more families could be spared the loss of a breadwinner and the arrival of mountains of medical bills.
Taking a little pride in your work could make things more merry and bright for others. If you assemble a car, wire a house or mix food ingredients conscientiously, you're less likely to cause a fatal accident.
No matter what you think you yourself can "handle," if you have a friend with an addictive personality, don't do anything to get him started on substance abuse, porn or gambling. Enablers have a poor track record for bringing true joy during the holidays. Perhaps a few more early interventions by friends and co-workers could prevent someone from becoming a burden on society.
Too many teenage girls get pregnant just so they'll have SOMEONE (the baby) to love them. If you're a teacher, neighbor or relative with a chance to intervene, let them know you care before they do something drastic.
I always get choked up when I hear the Merle Haggard song "If We Make It Through December." I know, I know: "Nobody enjoys laying people off." But I would still challenge employers to measure twice and cut once when contemplating leaving workers without a paycheck for an extended period.
Bite your tongue and count to ten before saying something that will tear a permanent rift in your family, thus leaving the most vulnerable members with fewer resources.
Churches must strive to be welcoming places. Networking should never be the primary draw of a place of worship, but it is nonetheless a valuable tool. The church family can help with transportation, babysitting, job tips and moral support BEFORE a troubled member hits rock bottom. But if a congregation is cold and judgmental, the neediest will be driven away.
With kind words and deeds, we can help the down-on-their-luck develop a healthy self-image. That means less pressure to hook up with an abusive partner, turn to drugs or rule out going back to school.
The media alert us to all sorts of charity cases at Christmas time, but I wonder to what extent they've CONTRIBUTED to the problem. Surely glamorizing casual sex, daredevil stunts and contempt for authority leads to a host of diseases, injuries, unwanted children and arrest records.
Thank God there are always generous hearts at Christmas. But a little year-round planning can keep those hearts from being overworked in a single season.
©2015 Danny Tyree. Danny welcomes email responses at [email protected] and visits to his Facebook fan page "Tyree's Tyrades". Danny's' weekly column is distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons Inc. newspaper syndicate.