The Cloak of Kindness

December 21, 2023   ·   0 Comments

By Constance Scrafield

There has been a lot of promotion of the newish comfort- zone catch phrase: Christmas Kindness. It makes me feel a little bit furious when I see signs in the super grocery stores that say: “Help us feed a million children.” So, I did some research on whether those stores can claim tax benefits from the point-of -sale donations (“would you like to give $2 to such-and-such charity?”) they collect but, according to the sources I checked, they cannot. Neither we the customers (too small an amount) nor the retailer can be awarded a tax benefit from our point-of-sale donation.

It seems this money amounts to millions of dollars going to various charities but we are unlikely to actually know which charity and when, and there is little talk of retailers matching our donations, for which they could then get tax benefits.

They get the good will from our donations but here is my real gripe:

Think about how weird it is to shop today and see the prices rise from week to week, how we suffer the indignities of the apparent games especially grocery stores play with our budgets. Then, they put out a Food Bank bin so that we can pay bouncing and inflated price for their goods and then donate them to a bin.

No. Corporations should not be gouging us and then profiting from our donations to food banks. They do not need help from us to help food banks. They do not need our struggling dollars to feed millions of children. Corporate profits are soaring and vacillating prices on everything make that true. Corporations do not need our $2 to care for those in need; they need to feed those children without our help and see to it that food banks can serve the people who need them. Corporations should be at the forefront of supporting shelters for the homeless and the crazy profits banks, for example, are making should be reflected in their clear give-back across the board of needs, including the arts.

Christmas Kindness. While it is a great thing to think of churches and charities giving homeless families or individuals, shelter and Christmas dinner, it is a puzzle to see them back on the street on Boxing Day. How do we focus one day of the year what is desperately needed all year round? How do we feel so good about the bounty we allow ourselves when we know how badly off and neglected, here in this country of such wealth, so many of our citizens are?

We cannot fix this as individuals but we can bring pressure to bear on governments to steer wealth to relieve the poor and the disabled to live real and full lives. Of course, what is obvious is the shadow world of taxation and the dance really wealthy people and corporations do about not paying taxes, dodging around clever exemptions. I know, I know, they build arts centres and hospital wings. Yet, they would not do so without their names being attached to the structures, nor if they couldn’t afford it; if it didn’t make a difference to their tax structure.

In other situations, people are opting for MAiD because their conditions and very humble needs, nay – even their rights, like a steady and secure roof over their heads and enough in their pockets so they can actually eat, are denied them by underfunded government agencies.

One might well point to the deeper crises around the world – the horrors in the Middle East and the terrifying scramble of millions of people trying to dodge the bombs falling on their homes and hospitals. Of the 4.5 million people living in north west Syria – a story we don’t hear much about – 2.6 million have seen their homes destroyed and are mainly living in hopeless camps with little or no services.

Then there are Gaza and Ukraine – we gasp and are helpless to stop the nightmares. Do they make our problems here look small?

Small or large, the problems of homelessness and starvation – no kidding – here at home are within our grasp to solve. It does not necessarily take a bomb to make a person homeless. Simple neglect to how we run our country is enough. Here, in this Canada, we have the potential to do things right. To protect our children; to care on a life-long basis for the disabled and impoverished; to stand fast for our environment and deal with the climate crisis that is a fact; to understand the importance of the arts – all this and more is how well other countries manage their regimes and we must learn and care and decide to manage well too.

This is a matter of our year-round attention. People need homes, nourishment and medical attention all year- round. They have the right to live without the free-of-charge offer of an early death.

Gosh – look at me bringing all this up at Christmas, when I should be all glitter and lights. Why do I feel the need to bring well-being and love into the lives of those without it? I guess it is because Christmas Kindness needs to be extended – you guessed it – to all year round.

May this be a time of kindness for you. Merry Christmas.

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