"The Heart That Gives, Gathers." Tao Te Ching
“We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give.”- Winston Churchill This holiday season in addition to many blessings in my life, I celebrate a realization that if Americans have given voluntarily 410 billion to nonprofits in 2017 while involuntarily spending 610 billion in taxes to support defense, it means that despite all of the polarization, we live in a country of fundamentally decent, generous people. The disillusionment is easy in a complex and confusing world where sometimes environmental activists have their pension funds invested in oil companies while vegan pacifists support military-industrial complex with their taxes. We are awash in extremely well funded propaganda often without realizing it. Having grown up in the USSR, I am familiar with the sensation of being on a receiving end of state-run propaganda machine, but it wasn’t nearly as subtle and sophisticated as marketing campaigns run by today’s car manufacturers or politicians. We are being sold ideas, lifestyles and entire world views by unscrupulous people cherry picking data and using powerful images to hit us below critical thinking in hopes of capturing our support. While I used to find this rather alarming, I have been realizing lately that despite these efforts, there are still many people who support wounded veterans while disagreeing with the war in which they were wounded. Dickens was right after all when he said that “no one is useless in this world who lightens the burdens of another.” This gives me hope that our increasingly manipulative culture’s impact is rather superficial, and our ability to care and give will endure.