As we celebrate Thanksgiving, remember our higher calling: helping the needy

Published November 18 2015

One does not have to be a socialist to want to help the poor and needy. And one does not have to be deeply religious to feel the pain of the poor and sick.

The United States of America is the most generous country in the world. Most of us like helping. Do we do enough, though, especially to meet the local needs?

The muscular middle-aged man begging on the street corner on a Sunday morning may not fit the description of the needy. How does one decide whom to help? It will be very obvious, if one observes closely.

For example, let us think of both ends of the life spectrum — children and the elderly, who are the most vulnerable.

About 800 students (more than 1 percent of total enrollees) in the Pasco County School District are homeless. Hernando County is not much different. Their parents are extremely poor for one reason or another, but care enough to send the kids to school for a good education to grow up to be proud and productive citizens. They live out of a car (if lucky) and do not have enough money for a full meal.

Take the elderly, including veterans, who had great giving lives of their own. They need help now because of finances, fragility or disability. More than 16 percent of Pasco’s senior citizens don’t know where their next meal will be coming from.

Nobody prays to be born blind and poor.

Who has the money to help all the needy? All the rest of us do.

A monthly $10 charitable gift from half of the households (not each person) in Pasco and Hernando counties would raise about $16 million per year to support our needy — the homeless and the hopeless, the disabled and the disadvantaged, the poor and the powerless and the sick and the hungry. That is a lot of money. The wealthy (we have many) can contribute 1,000 times more to credible local charities.

The No. 1 cause of all preventable deaths is smoking. Considering the cost of cigarettes, how much money do you think is burned every day by the citizens of Pasco and Hernando counties so they can commit slow suicide, wasting lots and lots of money on health care in the process?

We all have the right to enjoy our hard-earned income or easily obtained inheritance. But we all have an even higher calling to help the needy.

“The simplest acts of kindness are by far more powerful than a thousand heads bowing in prayer,” said Mahatma Ghandi. Mother Teresa said, “It is not how much we give but how much love we put into giving”.

Let us give our thanks to God for this Thanksgiving by sharing what little we can with the unfortunate.

Also, may we make a habit of it throughout the year and enjoy the endless happiness of helping.

This article was originally published in the Tampa Bay Times:

Rao Musunuru, M.D. Mini Bio

Dr. Rao Musunuru, who has called Pasco County his home since 1981, was instrumental in transforming a 50-bed rural hospital into a 290-bed Heart Institute at Bayonet Point/Hudson Regional Medical Center. He has received numerous awards and continually serves the community at large through education and philanthropy.