Taxes. Government. Happiness?

“The government is in the business of forcing people to do what they might not otherwise do.” Page 171 Reasonable Atheism

I read the book Reasonable Atheism and beyond all the talk about religion the above sentence stood out to me the most. Complaining about taxes is one of the favorite hobbies of our country. The only sure things are death and taxes as the old saying goes. There will likely always be some need for taxes. Not many roads get built by themselves or by private entities, although even that has been different in the past.Toll roads are evidence of that, so perhaps complete capitalism is what we are looking for? I don’t think it’s quite that simple, but I digress. A lot of our taxes are used to take care of others, via Social Security, Medicare, Pell Grants for colleges, paying for high school for families who can’t afford it, food stamps and many other ways.

If we don’t want the government taking our money to help those in need, we need to take responsibility for them ourselves. If we are unwilling to do that then we need to submit to government to take care of them when we are unwilling. We need to be less selfish.

We all have to feel at some level or another that what we are doing is a bit ridiculous. We, the majority of Americans and the rest of the people in the 1st world, live in excess. We have all we need. Food. Water. Shelter. We spend our time playing with toys or chasing after sexual partners or numbing our senses to the point that we think we are enjoying ourselves. We challenge each other on who has the fastest car or the nicest lawn, who has the highest score in the newest videogame or who’s 401k is the biggest. We complain about the latest sports scandal. Deflated footballs? Really? Isn’t there something more important we could talk about anything?

There is, but we aren’t too often talking about it. We are comfortable. We read the new articles about those who are committing violence and we are assured that they are off base. They are insane. They need to rethink their lives. They need help. But not from us….. Someone else needs to help them.

Perhaps they have asked for help time and time again but no one has listened? Perhaps they don’t know how to ask for help anymore, so like children when they are ignored, they act out with violence to gain our attention.

Perhaps we should start doing what we might not otherwise not do. Of utmost importance, taking care of those who can’t take care of themselves. If you don’t know anyone who is in need, that is your fault not theirs. Have you asked? Perhaps you do know someone in need but they are too embarrassed to ask for help. This is partially due to how we have stigmatized needing help in our world. We value individuality so much that to need help is seen as weakness and often if you need help you are given less and treated as though you deserve your fate.

Perhaps you are so tuned into your wants that you can’t even see the needs others have. Perhaps you choose to ignore it because it makes you uncomfortable. It should! We are too comfortable while there are people who sleep on the street! Who don’t know where their next meal is coming from. Who don’t even have access to clean water!

When was the last time you stopped and thought “I have enough.” Likely not as recent as the last time you said “I need to buy a bigger TV, couch, house, car.” Recognizing when you have enough and when it might be time to start helping someone else is when you will start to find true happiness.

What if we all started worrying about how we could affect our community for the better instead of just how we could make our lives materially better?

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