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.

1 comment:

Dan Binmore said...

One of the things any thinking person with some money must realize is that every day they are making a decision that results in someone starving to death. On the other hand if there were no wealthy people buying products then everyone would be in need of charity. The world has ugliness. I take comfort in the fact that I give more than most people, and that I have served more than most people. At some point you have to choose to be satisfied with what you've done, or choose to be miserable and guilty.

I think it a duty for those who have the opportunity to be happy, to be happy. If you aren't going to be happy who is going to be happy? if no-one is happy then humanity is a waste of time.