Americans give more to charity, per capita and as a percentage of gross domestic product, than the citizens of other nations. But why?
It would be nice to believe that as a group they are just more generous. Of course, it's more complicated than that.
For instance in the U.S., which is notably religious among wealthy Western nations, about a third of all charitable giving goes to houses of worship.''
This article confirms the same phenomena regarding charity and Americans.
It's worth noting that Christians tend to be bigger givers, as do conservatives generally, contrary to popular stereotypes of stingy conservatives.
Liberals give less, despite all their talk about the downtrodden poor. I suppose the idea is that Uncle Sugar is responsible for taking money from the greedy right-wingers and giving it to the worthy poor. If this is supposed to constitute 'charity', it seems liberals don't get the idea that charity cannot be coerced or demanded; it's always voluntary.
The writer of the Forbes article linked at the top of the post, Elisabeth Eaves, dissects the motivations behind the American altruistic tendency, examining various possible reasons for it, and ultimately, and rather disappointingly, says this:
In the end I don't think Americans are more generous in their hearts than other people, nor that they have more cynical motives than anyone else. They are responding, rather, to their culture.
For all its polyglot shifting, U.S. culture is unique when it comes to a belief in philanthropy. It's a value that may be rooted in Christian tithing, but has spread to the secular world. Maybe it's a recognition that with individual freedom comes responsibility, too.''
It's social expectation and 'peer pressure', ultimately, she says.
Well, yes, that's becoming the default liberal explanation for any and all observable differences among groups of people: ''it's the culture." This is the safe, non-threatening answer to all differences which can't be denied. ''It's the culture."
But as I've said before, this just shifts the question elsewhere: WHY do some people have certain cultures? What causes Western people in general, specifically Americans in comparison with other Westerners, to have a culture which values altruism and charity? Why should Americans have 'peer pressure' or 'social expectations' concerning charitable giving?
Could a nation of stingy, selfish, cynics value charity and volunteerism? What an absurd question. The reason we have the culture we have is because it embodies the innate traits and tendencies that we, on a communal level, share among ourselves.
So often in discussion of racial/ethnic differences, the answer to all obvious distinctions among groups is to blame (or credit) this mysterious thing called 'culture' for the differences. But which came first, the chicken, or the egg?
Some who believe in evolution and natural selection claim that because of the harsh climates in which European man developed, Europeans had to learn to be cooperative and altruistic, at least within kin groups, in order to survive. That's as may be; if it's true, why are not Eskimos, for example, the most altruistic of peoples, since they live in the coldest climate?
Other groups survived in harsh conditions without developing our traditions of helpfulness and altruism.
Some people credit (or blame) Christianity for our tendency to be charitable; obviously our charitable and helpful tendencies can be a vulnerability when interacting with people who do not share them, and who don't reciprocate.
This 'study' would seem to indicate that those who receive the most help will in turn be most helpful to others. If it's true, why are not Third World countries the most altruistic, since they are by far the biggest recipients of help, mainly from us?
But to return to the subject of Europe: why was Europe the only area of the world which enthusiastically embraced Christianity? It never really ''took'' in any other part of the world, despite scattered believers here and there in other regions. And I don't count Latin America; their ''Christianity" is too syncretistic, bearing little resemblance to European Christianity.
There's no avoiding the issue of how much of our behavior is genetic, and how much is environmental.
If I overemphasize the genetic aspect of behavior, it's only as a necessary corrective to the big error of our time, an error motivated by political correctness and cultural Marxism, towards denying all genetic components of behavior.
The subject of charity and altruism, which as this article says derives from the Latin alter or Other:
Coined by the philosopher Auguste Comte, the word "altruism" has dominated the social sciences’ discussion and measure of our behaviors toward the Other, and the motivations behind those behaviors. Altruism derives from the Latin alter, or "other." Evolutionary biologists and psychologists have since taken up Comte’s nomenclature.''
Certainly altruism is a good thing, but even good things can be excessive and then become bad things. We are now at a stage in which we are wrongly placing priority on the ''Other'' at the expense of our own, and ourselves. This is contrary to nature. I don't see how the secular believers in evolution or natural selection -- as many liberals are -- can champion suicidally altruistic behaviors such as the idea of open borders and special privileges for people of color. This is not natural, nor conducive to our survival and the survival of our progeny.
And those Christians who advocate this self-sacrificing preference given to The Other are slighting their own kin and people in doing so. It seems there is almost an idolatrous reverence for The Other, and the more ''other'', the more they are idealized by this type of Christian.
Many ethnoconservatives accuse Christianity of being responsible for our present precarious position. And they are correct that a certain faction of Christians, unfortunately the most visible and vocal ones, are promoting what amounts to self-genocide in the name of 'Christian charity' and loving one's neighbor. Yet these same people would not promote such self-abnegation if the recipients of the charity were our own people.
Has anyone noticed how virtually all of those TV appeals for starving children never show any American children? I actually saw one such appeal that did show some White American children, and it was startling because we never see that. Never, ever. I can hear someone say, 'well, we are so prosperous in this country that we have few or no starving children." Technically, we don't have starving children like those shown in the 'food for Africa' appeals. But we certainly have malnourished children and children in need.
The other response is usually ''anybody who can't find a way to prosper in this country just isn't trying, isn't working hard." To some extent, it's true, but in our increasingly difficult job market and with living expenses rising, many families are barely scraping by. So it isn't accurate to say that nobody need be poor in this country.
But why is it that we tend to rush to the aid of the ''other'' in preference to our own? Is it a perverse scramble for moral superiority, a desire to show off one's superior charitable tendencies?
Why is it that Americans tend to put foreign people on a pedestal? Some years ago, when Russian immigrants were a rarity in this country, there was a newspaper sob story about a Russian immigrant who had succeeded in getting to this country, but who was struggling to get on his feet. A follow-up story told of how the people in a local small town rallied to provide him with a car, a place to live, and a job. Who would do this for a local neighbor? Not many, but lots of people will rush to the side of a foreigner who has a sad story to tell. Why don't we seek out our kin and neighbors who have needs first, and if there truly are none, then give to ''others"?
It may be that this is an admirable thing; it may be that these people who will give the shirts off their backs for 'others' will have many stars in their crown in eternity. But somewhere we have lost the healthy love for our own that enabled us to prosper so well for so many centuries.
Whether something in our wiring has gone wrong, or whether propaganda can override our natural tendencies, I don't know.
Our altruism is something to cherish, only if we use it as it was meant to be used, to care for those nearest to us first, and for our extended family and tribe next. If all people everywhere did just that simple thing, we in the West need not have to be responsible for saving the whole world again and again.