This is a response I posted on Jeanne's blog on giving, but since it fit with the theme of gratitude, I thought I would post it here.
I appreciate your blog, and I hear what you are saying about elites supporting other elites ... Quakers supporting Quakers. I do get angry when I see the symphony hall built in my home town from a major donation and know the money came from the profits of racist fear-mongering in real estate years ago. They helped wreck the city and now they’re putting up a fancy venue? And in a city full of housing that you wouldn't let your pet live in ... a symphony hall? Then, like Chuck, I do remember I appreciate Mozart --but that too, I recognize this as a class-based taste ... and why should educated class tastes be supported ahead of others?
But as I mull this, I think of how healing it was for me for my Quaker meeting to support its own after coming from a church that always seemed to want to take my money. Take and take. It meant a great deal to me that the meeting would support my children going to Quaker camps ... and it meant a great deal to my children. When my meeting cares for me that models how to care for another ... but I agree, that care has to push out to the "least of these."
Also, my husband works for and two of my children attend Olney Friends School, hardly an elite boarding school. It's a school that provides a true Quaker education to kids who might not have any other opportunity to get one--because they would might be turned down for admission at the elite Quaker schools. Not because they couldn't do the work, but because they couldn't pass the test or look good enough on paper, which in itself might be a class issue. Or because they want an alternative to an elite school. I see hope for the world in schools like Olney. However, Olney does depend on support from other Quakers--it can't make it on tuition alone ... so I struggle with this. I hate to see needs compete and want to believe there's abundance for everything important, that we don't need to divert from one charity to the next but to divert funds from the latest consumer good so we can support more charities, especially these days.
As I write this, I realize how tight the budget is at Chez Reynolds, tighter than in decades. I think many people are feeling the pinch. All the same, I think we could look at our spending creatively and find ways to support more groups ...While I think it takes a leap of faith to believe the resources are here, I believe they are here. Do you believe they're here?