If I asked you to predict the extent of gratitude resulting from any given act of charity from a primarily western society to one of “minorities,” what would you speculate? If your answer is “not much” you are a foolish Pollyanna.
Consider Puerto Rican governor Ricardo Rosselló.
It’s difficult to discern from the media’s mush-mouthed reporting precisely how much funding was allotted to where and when but, whatever its distribution, the following amounts were earmarked substantially for Puerto Rico following Hurricane Maria:
💸 $15 billion in September 2017;
💸 $36.5 billion in October 2017; and
💸 $15.8 billion in February 2018.
With a population of 3.3 million that means US taxpayers extended aid in an amount approaching $20,393 for every man, woman, and child on the island. That’s quite generous. Nothing like how Puerto Ricans famously mobilized to help Tennesseans recover from the Nashville flood. But still it was a very significant package. So how lavish do you imagine were Governor Rossello’s expressions of appreciation? Well, let’s see…
After relief debacle, Puerto Rico’s governor looks for political revenge in Florida.
Vengeance! Yes, I think that’s how you pronounce thank you in Spanish. Though honestly who among us has ever been handed $67 billion dollars and not felt their fury coming to a boil?
The article goes on to describe how the enraged island steward has sought to rally the ‘Rican diaspora to wreck Trump in future elections. So what explains this behavior? The answer is entitlement, but that’s not sufficient analysis. That Rosselló has repaid charity with hostility is an act as timeless to the human condition as the flimsiness of a tropical shanty.
The reason he has done so lies largely in this question: Is it possible to give a stranger who wants money as much money as they want? I can assure you the task is more difficult than many imagine. And if they think you have more to give, their satisfaction approaches the impossibility event horizon. In addition, one act of charity breeds expectations for more. Unmet expectations produce resent. By that means upturned palms eventually become fists.
Here’s a relevant anecdote. While walking through one of America’s vast urban catch basins one summer evening I made the mortal mistake of making eye contact with a black male on the money make. He immediately matched my stride while demanding dough. After being badgered for a block about his myriad of problems I finally pressed a single $1 into his hand to break off the pursuit. Looking at his haul in disgust I heard him exclaim behind me: Mothafucka, a dolla? Fuck you!
None of which is very interesting aside from the fact that he didn’t curse or care about the many people who completely ignored him, but was livid at the one who gave him less than he wanted. What lessons could be taken from this? Only a prudent society would bring itself to wonder.