I have waited until the absolute last minute to pay my taxes. But they will be postmarked by 5pm today so please don’t judge. I certainly am paying a lot more this year than I had expected. It’s kind of a bummer. But, it’s all because I made a little more money and that I can be thankful for. Plus, I am happy to do my part as an American…blah blah blah…
In fact, as I get ready to sign my returns and get them out, I am thinking that be required to pay our taxes with money as the only currency is just not enough anymore. I know that this point of view will never get me elected President, but I think that additional taxes should be required of all American citizens as this point in our development as a truly civilized society. I personally want to be an active member of a Compassionate Community, and for that, I feel that there are taxes we all need to pay.
- A Gratitude Tax | Currency: Thank Yous – An essential part of building a compassionate community is gratitude. It’s foundational. We must recognize our gifts and the gifts of others in order for true connection to take place.
- An Empathy Tax | Currency: Listening – Empathy is the superpower we all have to recognize the humanity in each other. It is the essential step one in healing from loss or trauma. We don’t know how connected our experiences are at their core because we don’t stop to listen to each other enough. This needs to change.
- A Personal Growth Tax | Currency: Mistakes & Reflection – In order to do the hard work of compassion (deeply caring about the well-being of others) even in spite of our differences, we must be willing to push ourselves to the limits of our own experience and seek opportunity for growth in the zone of discomfort. When we do this, we will inevitably make mistakes. But these mistakes are exactly what will help us grow into more caring, connected, and compassionate people and we choose to let them happen and learn from them.
- An Honor & Responsibility Tax | Currency: Getting Over Yourself – Change is important but it’s not the only thing. Nothing is new under the sun, as they say, and it is crucial to honor what is and what has come before us. No matter how hard I try, I am not the center of the universe. And, consequently, neither are you. So, let’s just pay our tax, get over ourselves, show up, follow through, and respect those who have been here before us.
- An Above & Beyond Taxes Tax | Currency: Time, Money, An Open Heart – Sure, some of the actual tax dollars we pay go to helping the most vulnerable in our communities, but, we all know that it’s not enough. It’s basic altruism. Figure out how much time and money you have to give and then, give it. And, if you have absolutely no time or money (which, chances are, is almost impossible), then open your heart and give someone a smile, a hug, a high five. Something.
Instead of accountants, artists should be the ones to help folks pay these taxes. In the making of art, we are pay these taxes over and over again. We have a lot of practice. We can be the ones to measure and collect and allocate the “funds” in ways that bring about real and lasting change to our communities. Imagine receiving your statement from the NEA in addition to the one you get from the IRS. I am sure there will be a lot less forms to fill out. And although we artists will make the process much simpler than the accountants, we cannot guarantee it will be easy. The work of transforming our communities to center on compassion is not easy. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t do it.
Okay, I have to end this now. I gotta get to the post office.
This post was written by me – Glitter & Razz co-founder & CEO, Lynn Johnson. In addition to running Glitter & Razz, I also lead a project entitled Compassionate Conversations based on my personal & professional mission to ignite compassion and connection through art and play. Compassionate Conversations helps youth and the adults who love them access creative play to practice the hard work of making meaningful connections across difference.