Memphis is the second most generous city in the country, according to a new survey by The Chronicle of Philanthropy.
According to the publication: “Religion plays a major role in how much money Americans give to charity. The parts of the country that tend to be more religious are also more generous.”
Why is this true? Why are Memphians so generous?
There are surely a myriad of reasons why Memphians are generous folk. But the one that comes to my mind is related to a recent study suggesting that rich people may be less generous because their wealthy lifestyles have removed them from areas and causes of poverty and its pain. That is, people don’t respond to what they don’t see.
In my experience, Memphians don’t fall into the category of “those who don’t see.” We aren’t removed from our problems. In fact, one of things I most appreciate about Memphians is that we don’t pretend that “everything is all right” when we know it isn’t. We know our history of racial conflict. We know our schools are in trouble and need renewal. We know poverty is all around us — how can we not know when, for example Midtown, Orange Mound, East Memphis, and Binghampton are all “neighbors”? We know these things about our community. We don’t always know what to do, but we don’t pretend there’s nothing to do. And so, with the encouragement of our faith traditions echoing in our heads and hearts, we do what we can. We give money, volunteer at MIFA, plant community gardens, eat at Caritas Village, support the Church Health Center, and all the while we pray that God will take our few loaves and fish and feed the multitudes. . .again.