Commentary

Snow: Paying Caesar is the Christian thing to do

March 30, 2013 

Jesus is supposed to have coined the edict “Render therefore unto Caesar’s the things which be Caesar’s…” when the Jews were rebelling against paying taxes to the government.

Now, eons later, thousands of Wake County property owners apparently ignore that edict. Did you notice the recent 16-page N&O supplement listing thousands who haven’t paid last year’s property taxes?

Publishing the list -- aimed in part at shaming tax delinquents into rendering what they owe “Caesar” -- cost Wake County $26,713.

The listings reminded me of the time some years ago when I stopped at a foothills fruit and vegetable stand.

A sign on the wall behind the cash register read in 2-inch lettering: “These people are not to be trusted!” Listed below were the names of several former customers who had not paid their bills.

“Isn’t that a bit rough?” I asked the woman who was ringing up my vine-ripened tomatoes and new potatoes.

“No, sir!” she retorted tartly. “All they have to do to get their names off the list is to pay their debts.”

“It seems a little like a Singapore brand of punishment,” I said, noting that one man owed only $12.83.

“He came in here and got a carton of cigarettes on credit and hasn’t been back,” she muttered.

Another’s character was being besmirched for a debt of $1.43. But one name had been marked through with a black crayon.

“So, I see some do pay up.”

“No, that old woman died, so we took her name off,” the woman explained.

“That was awfully nice of you,” I said.

Grandpa as teacher

At my 10-year-old grandson’s school, in a tribute to grandparents, students were asked to list things their grandparents have taught them. Here are a few:

• How to tie my shoes because I was still wearing ones with Velcro.

• How to skin a deer.

• How to sweep the patio.

• How to do the dishes.

• How to get the cat to come to me.

• How to pick sweet potatoes from their garden.

• A lot about the Internet, even though my grandpa still calls it the inner tube.

• How to be quiet.

And what has my grandson learned from me?

“Birdwatching, how to play Scrabble, about the war,” and “how when Snowdaddy was homesick and far, far from home, he looked up at the moon and felt closer to his family because they were looking at the same moon.”

I think I shared the moon bit with him as he headed off to summer camp for the first time.

Shameful past

Thank you for your many responses to the column on racism and how we were in the ’60s, some sharing your own sense of guilt.

Dick Holmes of Robeson County remembered that Robeson had four separate school systems.

“Harry Reasoner did a piece on TV about Robeson being the only county in the entire country with four separate public school systems,” he said.

“There were separate schools for the whites, the blacks, the Lumbee Indians and the Smilings.

“The Smilings were mulatto, a little bit of all the races. The first Lumbee Indians began to attend my all-white school was in 1963 when I was a senior.”

Popping the question

An Internet promotion for wedding paraphernalia from Conshohocken, Pa. reminded me that I did nothing to celebrate National Proposal Day on March 20.

My late friend and minister, Dr. Albert Edwards, once told me that the way a laddie proposed in his native Scotland was to ask his lassie, “How would you like to be buried with my people?”

Let’s cool it!

My wife came home with an interesting tidbit of information from an N.C. State University retired faculty luncheon at which Joe and Teresa Graedon spoke. It seems that people with a lot of anger are more prone to heart attacks.

I can’t remember a season of more anger, mostly over politics.

British author and critic John Ruskin once wrote that peacocks and lilies are the most useless things in the world. I’d add political arguments to his useless list.

At least lilies and peacocks have beauty to recommend them.

Snow: 919-836-5636 or asnow@newsobserver.com

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