A friend of mine had a young relative come and do some jobs for her over the school holidays. She paid him an hourly amount and at the end of the time, presented him with a wage slip, showing what he had earned and included deductions for tax. The youngster didn’t know what tax was. My friend explained “Generally, people think it is important that you have a good school to go to and so we all get together and give a little bit of money so that you can get an education. We think it is a good idea to have hospitals and places to look after people, so we get together and each give a bit of money so that we can pay the nurses and doctors, and keep the hospitals running.” I liked this explanation. It is easy to moan about paying tax and what we get for it, but when people are willing to co-operate, we can make the world a better place for everyone.
Some will rightly point out that there are always individuals who will take advantage of every situation. This is true. There are people who make money out of other people’s misfortune and misery. I was horrified to read about a gang who were selling life jackets to refugees, which were filled with packaging, rather than buoyancy material. They knew that anyone wearing these life jackets would not survive in the water, yet they were willing to trade on the desperation of others to make money. When we hear stories like this, it is possible to lose faith in human goodness. However, I believe that people are created to do and be good. Individuals and families are opening their homes to refugees, offering them food and clothing, helping them to learn the language of their newly adopted country or campaigning for better conditions. These acts of human kindness and generosity are a welcome counterbalance to those who intend to hurt and harm. We are all capable of doing the right thing. Sometimes we just need courage to do it.