Everyone Should Contribute

Emerald - Seattle, Washington
Entered on May 1, 2008

During a recent vacation to Honolulu, a friend took out this credit card and charged several hundred dollars for two luxury brand-name wallets. He’s 26, single, makes around $50,000 a year. “It’s just money,” he said, “I’ll make it back.”

My friend’s attitude isn’t rare. In downtown Honolulu, I saw the manifestation of consumerism. Luxury stores carry bags that cost more than my monthly income. High-end restaurants and bars open late for the enjoyment of the tourists. They are brightly lit and beautifully decorated. However just several blocks away, a homeless man was sleeping on a bench, covered in rags. I wonder whether the customers of those luxury stores realize that their money could have made a big difference in this man’s life.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not against spending money. After all most people work hard for it and they have the rights to spend however they please. I myself took that vacation to Hawai’i. But just because they can spend money excessively, doesn’t mean they should.

I believe that there is more to life than make money and then spend it. Everyone needs to contribute what they can back to society: donate to a food bank, become a mentor, or volunteer at the local shelter. That is the price we ought to pay in order to coexist with other human beings.

So, every Saturday morning I volunteer to teach English to a group of elderly immigrants. My students want to learn better English so they can have better jobs and become U.S. citizens. My small contribution makes a big difference in the lives of my students.

We don’t have to contribute a lot for it to matter. The important thing is that we do contribute. We must live for something other than our own selves. And I do my share by showing up every Saturday, because I deeply believe that there are more to life than making money than then spending it.