Money does not equal caring

Let you be stripped of your purple dyes, for I too once in the wilderness with my wife had all the treasure I wished.
~Epic of Gilgamesh

Picture this…a couple gets a dog. They pick out the perfect puppy, thinking of how much fun it’ll be to have a dog. They feed it the best food, get it the nicest collars, and buy it lots of toys. But the dog languishes in its backyard for want of attention. But they love the dog, don’t they! They spend all this money on it!

But what the dog really wants isn’t more toys, it’s affection. Time. Love. You can’t buy these things. I know of a dog that got more attention from its petsitters than it did from its owner. Slowly the owner came to realize that the dog didn’t care for her. She did manage, eventually, to give the dog the love and attention it craved.

Parents do this with children. Friends do this to other friends. “Supporters” do this to causes almost constantly. Why? Because it’s often easier to merely give someone a gift or a check instead of actually spending time with them or getting to know them. They don’t want to put forth actual effort so they just take the easy way out. Giving money requires no obligation and very little sacrifice.

Sure, organizations do need money. But they also need volunteers. Causes need people willing to give of themselves. The Peace Corps would cease to exist if people merely offered money instead of time and effort. A community run garden, no matter how high quality the plants and supplies, will fail unless someone tends it.

Relationships, be they with a significant other, a family member, a friend, a pet, a place, will falter if not nourished.

Consumer culture teaches us that money is everything. That it can buy love, a home cooked meal, the perfect christmas, smart, funny, and well-behaved children. Anything. Money can do anything.

Except it can’t. It can’t buy love, a home cooked meal, christmas, or children. The best things in life are very often free. One of my favorite memories as a child was playing in a refrigerator box with the kids down the street. I didn’t want for anything, much less a my-size Hummer, as a child. Oh, sure, there were things I wanted. But I had everything I needed and then some. Most importantly, I had parents who actually spent time with their children and friends that actually cared.

Your time, your attention, your effort and dedication are the most important things you can give. To anything or anyone. No amount of money can replace any of that. But time, love, and attention can often make up for a lack of money. Your kids may not have name-brand clothes or the coolest toys, but they’re probably happier with a cardboard box. The dog could care less if his toy is a 100% organically grown cotton tug or an old sock. Ultimately, both will prefer human interaction to anything money can buy.

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