Last year my wife and I rescued a puppy from death row. Roscoe is a mixed lab-shepherd, various shades of white, and is now 18 months old. Still a big puppy. Spoiled rotten. Since acquiring Roscoe we haven’t seen as many squirrels in our backyard as we used to see. But we will occasionally see them in numbers when he is inside.
Like one day last week, while eating breakfast, my wife and I looked out the window and saw a single squirrel, sitting atop a bird feeder, vigorously thrashing and casting bird seed out of the feeder, spraying seed below to six other squirrels on the ground. The bird feeder, which sits atop a black metal pole, can only accommodate one squirrel at a time without there being a confrontation of the two, which we have seen happen before.
We noticed how clever and intuitive it was for the single squirrel, who probably was of the strongest or quickest of the bunch, to have the presence of mind to share the wealth, so to speak, with his fellow squirrels. Perhaps he was the patriarch, or the matriarch, of the bunch. Or perhaps he surmised that it was in his best interest to do so in order that he could eat his glorious share in peace without being challenged or pushed off the feeder by a competitor.
The six squirrels on the ground, none of whom were looking upward, oblivious to their benefactor, were greedily eating the seeds. My wife lamented over the unintended beneficiaries of the seed whose rate of seed-consumption made her realize this particular bag of seed would quickly meet its budget before due. The thought of letting Roscoe loose was quickly set aside since we were really enjoying the feeding spectacle.
It didn’t take but a moment for us to almost simultaneously share the same thought that if all humans were so inclined to share in such an unselfish manner, that it would be an interesting world for sure. We’ve just been through the holiday season, a season in which there is an emphasis and increased awareness for those who are in need, in addition to requests from all quarters to share, or volunteer, and to give to those who are needy. This emphasis, especially in the media, tends to fade after the New Year begins and also as time distances us from the season. We fall back into the humdrum, routine of everyday life, myself included. Most of us probably don’t share as much as we could.
However, Mississippi is second only to Utah as the most generous state in the Union with each Mississippian donating, on average, 7.2 percent of their discretionary income to charity. Residents are more likely to give cash than time but they volunteered at a rate of 21 percent. Maine and New Hampshire were the least generous at 3.1 and 2 percent donations of discretionary income.
As we begin this new year perhaps there will be even more people far and wide inclined to share, to assist, and to give of themselves in any manner they deem appropriate or fit, to the benefit of those who may find themselves in less fortunate circumstances. And even more importantly, may there be even a greater interest on a national level, in turning away from an economy of exclusion with respect to those on the lower rungs of the economic ladder, and instead towards one more of inclusion. If squirrels can instinctively do it, so can we. To do otherwise would seem to be rather – well, just kind of squirrelly.