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Diarist C45 Day 20

Friday, Sept. 16 

Volunteer and public service is on my mind today as I begin my diary entry. I’ve been pretty busy on the last couple of Diary Days, so the assignment either slipped my mind completely or I felt I had nothing really valuable to contribute. 

My employer has been involved in several recent community-service projects, as is typical for this time of year. We’ve found we usually have a large number of folks who are happy to shed the office for a day and complete a number of labor-oriented tasks. I’ve long felt the Muncie community is a generous one, willing to give of time and money to assist or otherwise lift others, a virtuous offering in the best of times, but of great importance when so many are still struggling. 

However, I’ve got to note that the “generosity” exhibited by so many has been tempered of late by it seems a growing resentment from many that others are receiving any kind of relief, whether from student loan debt, healthcare, housing or food costs. Even public safety seems to now be a commodity to be scrutinized. The same employer recently introduced some plans to provide free-of-charge resources to combat overdoses, which have burdened local healthcare and law enforcement agencies for some time. If the public comments to local media’s social media is any representative sample, this well-meaning endeavor is much scorned, whether from law-and-order types, even some struggling the most with addictions themselves.  

It’s the last group that seems to voice its opinions on philanthropy and community giving most often. Socially, the donor and philanthropic classes are sometimes generalized as having a “I’ve got mine, now raise the drawbridge” mentality, but that doesn’t seem to be the case locally. The Muncie area has numerous non-profits who have stepped in and tried to fill the void of the robust charities and services which seemed to exist here when the factories and unions were a-humming, or so I am told. My education is in psychology in addition to business management and marketing, so in trying to understand both sides of an issue or point-of-view, I can sort of understand the attitude that programs such as these enable, rather than combat, future addiction. But addicts are most often the parent or other head of a family or household, and I understand they are pulling down far more people than themselves. How does it help *those* people to turn an indifferent eye and let their spouse or parent simply die? 

Too often today it feels as if an attitude of “I struggled with X, so why shouldn’t others?” or simply, “where’s mine?” has taken hold. This was brought home to me about a decade ago, when I was out of work for several months due to a layoff. This was fast on the heels of a divorce and upheaval of our family’s lifestyle, and a candidate for office of a major political party who implied we were freeloading burdens on society simply because we had one moderate income, three minor dependents and thus, no real tax liability. Still, it was the first time I’d qualified for any kind of real assistance, as I’d known really only middle-class comfort growing up. 

That fortunately brief time basically exploded most of the right-wing conservative chestnuts of my youth in the 80’s, those caricatures of folks coasting for years on the “government dime” of luxury and no set schedule. Even my frustration to a family member with having to apply for unemployment funds was met with “you’re the wrong color and gender to be getting any of that.” For f#ck sake, man. When did it become so fashionable to willfully screw and withhold people from basic needs, just because you didn’t have them? 

Those thoughts drive me today to do what I can and give back what I can. I don’t make a large income, but am more financially comfortable than I have ever been as an adult. I’ll admit I’m lucky I can do so professionally with a not-small budget dedicated to community service.  

I’ve often commented I have a “love/hate” relationship with Muncie, my native home. While I’ll still not hesitate to call out the things I don’t like, projects and weeks like these make me feel like I am helping *some*one. It’s a start.