No, it’s not a gripe about the Tories increasing the overseas aid budget to help regimes like Pakistan’s that buys weapons of mass destruction (real ones) and puts people on death row for talking about Christ.
Today is the BBC’s annual attempt to get the land’s couch potatoes to phone up and donate money to “good causes”. To the Children In Need viewer, charity begins at home – and ends there in most cases – in the sense that they are “entertained” in their living rooms during the 36 hours the show runs (it only feels that long!) and don’t even need to leave the chaise longe to telephone Pudsey’s special “give us yer effing money” number. Not that the loveable, perpetually injured bear would use Geldoffian profanities.
While soap opera “stars” make fools of themselves on the telethon, the real heroes of the hour are those brave men and women all across the land being sponsored for sitting in baths of cold baked beans – not thinking that they are wasting an awful lot of food which could feed the hungry.
I think the problem is that, with an increasingly dumbed down population, we need to be told when to give and to whom. I have lost count of the number of charities who write to me with literature whose text and pictures are aimed at making me feel guilty. I have news for them: I don’t! Many of them are big businesses with highly-paid staff in some cases – I don’t mean the many faithful volunteers, but the chief execs, directors and area managers.
I had written more about specific charities I have studied, but have decided to keep it for another post as it has ended up longer than expected.
Have we lost the real meaning of “charity”?
I have made the effort to talk to some of the alcoholics who stay at one of the town’s hostels (called bed and breakfasts) and invited a couple into my home for cups of tea and meals and given practical help with such things as dealing with the “authorities”.
Not that everyone could do that, but being a reformed drinker myself, it is easier for me to understand them and not be afraid. It would be easier if I gave £20 to an alcohol charity to employ someone to go to the B&B to make a cup of tea and offer advice!
Not nearly as rewarding though.
If we as a nation have to be either made to feel guilty or “entertained” in order to give money or help to people/charities then something has gone badly wrong with our attitude towards others less fortunate.