Hi there, Bill O’Reilly. I read your recent piece today. I don’t usually read things you’ve written, or watch you on TV, mostly because I expect you to say things that make me angry, and I don’t really want to be angry all the time. (From what I do know of you, you might also want to consider not being angry all the time. It’s kind of nice.)
Now, what I have to say to you today is full of ironies, and we’ve already hit upon the first one. I’ve started, right there in the very first paragraph, to tell you what to do with yourself, and I don’t really know that much about you at all. That’s ironic because the second piece of advice I want to give you is to stop telling others how to live.
“Millions of Americans” are not responsible, Bill? How do you know? And while you are gathering proof to back up your statement, I’d like you to think about the worst day of your entire life. Do you remember how sad and/or mad and/or hopeless you felt? Do you remember how that sadness and/or anger and/or hopelessness sapped all your energy and made you feel like crawling right back into bed? You must have had at least one day like that, at some point, right?
Now what if you had weeks of that, or months, or even years? How “responsible” could you be? What if everyone you knew was struggling, just like you, and was just as exhausted from jumping through hoops to get help? Wouldn’t you start to resent the hell out of people who weren’t struggling so much? Wouldn’t you start to believe that those jerks owed you a little something?
That brings us to the second irony, which is that I think I get where you’re coming from, Bill. I have met people who accept help, and seem to expect what they receive, and more besides, without gratitude. It’s frustrating to be the giver in that scenario, to work hard for your money and see others treat it with what looks like carelessness, to give up some of your precious time and not be thanked. It’s easy to start to feel tapped out. I know.
(I assume that you know this first-hand, because according to Wikipedia, you make $20,000,000 per year, and as the good Christian you are, I choose to believe you are putting your money where your mouth is. You’re also a parent, Wiki says, so I assume you know the feeling of another human being who truly is 100% dependent on you, who cannot understand in the least why you might sometimes want a moment to yourself? You, like your own parents, probably don’t have domestic help for that kind of thing, right? I mean, you’re down in the trenches, right, Bill? You’ve seen this irresponsibility in action!)
Of course, as Andrew Sullivan pointed out, there’s room for different interpretations of Jesus’ intentions of our charitable obligations. We’re not responsible, Bill, for the attitudes of the people to whom we give. Only they and Jesus know whether they’re right with God, Bill. You and I, in turn, can only try to make our own attitudes about giving more godly.
Now, don’t misunderstand me. I actually agree with you, at least in part, about the importance of personal responsibility. I am not one of the “many” liberals who you claim “believe there should not be any limits” on government aid. You’re right, that’s not realistic. I do, however, think you and I differ greatly on where that line ought to be drawn, especially for Christians – a faith you and I both profess.
You say that Jesus “promoted charity at the highest level, [but] he was not self-destructive.” The man died on a cross, Bill. For you. For me. “Not self-destructive”? Are you kidding me? No, seriously. Was that supposed to be a joke?
Now, the final irony here is that I’m far, far from perfect. I have not given away my house, all my money, days and days of my time. We Christians are trying to emulate Christ, but we’re all always falling short. I fall shorter than many, I’ll admit. So I don’t have any right to lecture you, Bill, on your attitude toward the “have-nots,” or to try to change your politics around to my own point of view.
The odds are so ridiculously slim that you will ever read this, it’s pretty crazy to even write it. Still, and speaking only for myself (not, in other words, for all Christians and certainly not for God Himself), I’d like you to know that I think you sound a lot more like a man trying to protect his way of life, and much less like someone who is grateful for everything God has given him, and who is trying to make the most of those gifts.