Brenda Berck

Alas, it will take much more than a dime to help any of the 2.5 million American families that lost their homes to foreclosure during the first nine months of 2008, or the 600,000 Americans who lost their jobs during the same time period, or the 1,400 Welland, Ontario residents who lost jobs in a ten-day period in September.

And yet, it might be difficult to find an accumulation of those dimes to help others; the Toronto Star this summer reported that “donations to the Daily Bread Food Bank’s annual Fall Drive are down this year by thousands of pounds of food and thousands of dollars.”

Readers will be pleased to learn that this will not be a column about the economy in Canada or elsewhere. Rather it is prompted by: the fear that I live with as a renter at risk of homelessness because of the lack of affordable housing in B.C.; anxiety about the lack of knowledgeable economic leadership; and my reading two things early this fall.

The first comment is from the rock star and anti-poverty activist, Bono, quoted in The American Prospect blog: “It’s extraordinary to me that the United States can find $700 billion to save Wall Street and the entire G8 can’t find $25 billion dollars to save 25,000 children who die every day from preventable diseases.” Since Bono’s statement, the United States has found an additional $150 billion to ‘rescue’ Wall Street.

The second was the blog posting by Vancouver Sun columnist Doug Todd on the results shown in a recent issue of the journal Science. It concludes that if (and only if) certain conditions are met, religious people generally are more helpful than atheists.

The conditions? There are two: The first is that religious people behave better when they believe their good acts toward strangers will be noticed and will enhance their reputation among their peers.

The second reason religious people might generally behave more kindly and generously is when they have been freshly reminded of a morally tinged God or supernatural being.

Let me then remind myself, and others made anxious by these times, of these words from Micah (6:8) : “He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your Lord.” Will we love our neighbour when times are hard?