What does $177.20 get you?

Every day it seems I get an opportunity to give to a good cause. There are so many very real needs…on my desk right now I have appeals for the Heart and Stroke Foundation, Niagara Child & Youth Services (which funds desperately needed children’s mental health programs), and I still haven’t gotten around to going on-line and sponsoring Jennifer in the Great Strides walkathon for Cystic Fibrosis (her little niece was diagnosed this year). I want to give.

And so that’s why I’m reflecting on $177.20. I figured it out today, that’s the amount I gave to the Canadian military last year. I looked at my tax return, and calculated 8.4% of my federal taxes, since that is the portion of the federal budget that is earmarked for military spending.

Everyone who pays taxes supports the military, it is something we are required to do by law. But if I was conscripted, I would not join the army, because I believe it goes against the example Jesus gave us. I think I’d go to jail rather than join the military. But this $177.20…it’s not that much money, is it? Does it really matter?

I wonder how much federal tax people in our congregation pay…and what First Mennonite collectively gives to the military each year? Or what Mennonites across the country give? Maybe there should be a fighter jet with our name on it. We may not go to war, but we are certainly paying for it. What’s a person to do?

Right now MP Bill Siksay has introduced a private member’s bill into the House of Commons, which allows for the military portion of income tax to be re-directed to a more peaceful purpose. If you could check a box on your income tax form, which diverted money from the military to a peaceful cause, would you check it? I would. Check out http://www.consciencecanada.ca/legislation to find out more.

I challenge you to look at your tax return and figure out the exact amount you gave to the Canadian military last year. What did that amount get you?

This week’s prayer:  God of grace, in a complicated world, give me clarity.  Every word, every deed building your kingdom.  Amen.

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