Stephen King: Scaring You to Action
America's self-dubbed 'scary guy' offers his ideas for improving the world and ourselves.
BY: Stephen King
Here's another scary thing to think about before you leave here. Imagine a nice little backyard, surrounded by a board fence. Dad--a pleasant fellow, a little plump, wearing an apron that says YOU MAY KISS THE COOK--is tending the barbecue. Mom and the kids are setting the picnic table by the backyard pool: fried chicken, cole slaw, potato salad, a chocolate cake for dessert. And standing around that fence, looking in, are emaciated men and women, starving children. They are silent. They only watch.
We've elected an administration--I guess we elected them, we might as well say we did--that takes a dim view of charity as national policy. George W. Bush talks about "compassionate conservatism," an oxymoron right up there with "jumbo shrimp" and "humane execution." What he's talking about has been Republican Party bedrock for a hundred years; it amounts to, "Don't give a man a fish, give him a fishing pole and teach him to fish." (This, of course, would be before idiotic conservation and environmental policies render the whole concept of "fish" irrelevant.) My own philosophy--partly formed as a young college graduate without a job, waiting in a line to get donated commodities for the kids--is by all means give a man a pole and teach him to fish, but people learn better with full bellies. Why not give him a fish to get started?
Giving isn't about the receiver or the gift but the giver. It's for the giver. One doesn't open one's wallet to improve the world, although it's nice when that happens; one does it to improve one's self...I give because it's the only concrete way I have of saying that I'm glad to be alive and that I can earn my daily bread doing what I love. I hope that you will be similarly grateful to be alive and that you will also be glad to do whatever it is you wind up doing. Giving is a way of taking the focus off the money we make and putting it back where it belongs--on the lives we lead, the families we raise, the communities which nurture us.
Right now we have the power to do great good for others and for ourselves. So I ask you to begin the next great phase of your life by giving, and to continue as you begin. I think you'll find in the end that you got far more than you ever had, and did more good than you ever dreamed.