Saturday, December 12, 2009
The way I feel about charity
The well of human need is bottomless. At least, it is to mere mortals. That much I accept. Christ said (among other things): "For the poor always ye have with you;" and He won't get any argument from me.
But every holiday season (admittedly, some more than others) I am visited by an uneasiness, a minor plague of self-doubts, at the thought of the underfed millions around the world that are every bit as human as I am. Every one of them has joys and fears; each holds a desperate hope and a secret triumph. That is true for the idle young heir to an oil fortune in Dallas, as well as for the young, HIV-positive Zulu mother in the slums of Johannesburg.
And here am I: loud-mouthed schmo up in the upper left hand corner of civilization, making smart-ass remarks on the internet. Questions form: Have I given enough? How much must I expect from myself? How egregious is my hypocrisy? (Like it or not, folks, we all operate from positions that we can't defend. It's just a matter of degree. If you're honest with yourself, you will admit it.)
After many years of this discomfort of the psyche, I've more or less fallen into a consistent reaction which works adequately for me. Sum it up to this: Generosity. Of course I participate in the food drive at work for the needy local families; and I dash off a check to this or that charity over the course of the year. But I think the best way to alleviate some of the suffering in this world, the solution that will come closest to diminishing that bottomless well, is to be generous in a more profound manner.
I try to be generous with my smile and my warm wishes and my expressions of admiration; with my appreciation of beauty; with my own thoughts and feelings. (Alas for poor Maty!) It all goes back to my deeply held belief in the justice and the infallibility of karma. If I can help to spread those positive vibes, if I can relay them outward, I believe in the long run, there will be less suffering, less need.
Crackpot theory? Probably. But it works for me, for now.