I made an off the cuff response to a statement that liberals love people by saying that liberals loved humankind but not necessarily people. I even quoted one of my favorite philosophers, Linus (from Peanuts) who said, "I love mankind. It's people I can't stand." I think I need to do two things with this whole idea -- extend it and expand it. The extension is easy. I don't think that liberals have any more love for humanity than conservatives do, not one whit. I don't think that conservatives love people any more than liberals do, not one whit.
Have you ever noticed, though, how gladly we give money and time to people who live half a world away? Save a child in Nicaragua. Save a mother in Chad. Save a family in Dafur. We do, and we store up blessings in whatever non-denominational heaven we believe in. But, do we go to the other side of town and save a child, or save a mother, or save a family? No, not usually. Probably because it's messy and unsanitary and after all these people may have cooties. Is a sick child in Chicago any less sick than a child in Iraq?
Now, clearly, there are people who do this, who delve into the smoky netherworlds of freeway underpasses and flophouses. God bless 'em, they are stronger, purer, and worthier than I am. Most of us, however, are like the lady in one of Chuck Dickens' novels (Bleak House?), who spends all her time, energy, and brainpower gathering money for an African tribe on the banks of some river or another. People hold her up as a paragon of Christian charity. Meanwhile, she neglects her own children, but we do have to make sacrifices for the greater good dontcha know.
So, and since I'm doing the defining, here it is -- If you send money to help out in Africa, Asia, or on the moon, you love humanity. If you stop to fix a flat for a stranded mom with six kids, you love people. There's nothing wrong with helping humanity, of course. After all, someone has to do it. It just seems a little cold and remote to me. In the movie The April Fools, a woman is preparing to leave her husband. He says, "But what about little Juan? The family breakup will kill him." "Who's he?" she asks. Whereupon the husband whips out a picture of a small child that he's sponsoring in one of those "save the children" campaigns. He has, of course, substituted money for real, loving charity, and as the man said, he has his reward.