CHARITY STARTS AT HOME
“Sending an email asking somebody to ‘sponsor’ you is begging dressed up in a good cause….I’m very much a pragmatist who believes in the analogical process of putting on your own oxygen mask before assisting others with theirs. “
Spring is in the air, the warm rays of the sun are finally starting to drive the winter chill from your bones and you may feel inspired to get out of the house, spend some quality time with your nearest and dearest. You may even venture out, along with many others, to watch hundreds of human beings participate in a public event, like the London Marathon, for example, where the boundaries of human endurance are pushed in honour of the human compulsion to achieve, or more likely for a worthy cause.
But what if, as you played spectator to such a spectacle you find the festivity cut short by a bomb blast? That’s something you hadn’t factored into your daily schedule; the acrid smell of burnt dust and mortar nor the anguished cries of the injured.
Yet that’s exactly what happened this week in Boston. Two youths took it upon themselves to bomb the popular event in the American city. You do have to wonder about the human race. Indeed, our first instinct in these cases is to ask why? What could have motivated someone to this senseless act? Regardless of the explanation, the reality will always remain the same; it won’t bring back the lives of the those who perished nor life, as they knew it, of their relatives.
This is the part where I say that my heart goes out to the family of those involved because it is the right thing to say at a time like this. Yet, the reality is, with such media desensitisation and without prolonged exposure to the awful details of this tragedy, all I have to offer my fellow human beings is default sympathy, and that I offer unreservedly.
And, as if to reinforce the fact that life is truly fragile, this week I received yet another of the many ‘begging’ emails I receive on a regular basis. And yes, I am aware of the fact that somehow the word ‘begging’ conjures up a somewhat distorted and perhaps negative image of the sentiment but the action of sending an email asking somebody to ‘sponsor’ you remains nonetheless begging dressed up in a good cause.
Those who know me will also know that I strongly believe that charity starts at home. Whilst it may well be altruistic to donate to one of the thousands of ‘worthwhile’ causes out there, I’m very much a pragmatist who believes in the analogical process of putting on your own oxygen mask before assisting others with theirs.
Yet this week I received an email from a business associate who, interestingly, started out his ‘ begging email’ with an apology; he was very much aware of the fact that I must receive many such emails, which I do. However, he then goes on to tell me the story of his friend who died last year of pancreatic cancer, leaving behind a wife and ( I was going to add the word beautiful here but I don’t think it has any relevance in this context) daughter. It’s a sad story, one that each and every one us has probably heard several times before but there was something about this that moved me, and I guess it was in the writing. The email I received didn’t just ask for some money because of an overdeveloped selfless trait or need to atone but more it talked about the bond he shared with his friend and a sense of loss that tugged at my frozen heart strings. Why this particular story compelled me to part with my cash is unknown but I’d probably attribute it to the fact that the story was described to me in such a way that I was able to connect with the sense of loss and thus is motivated me to do something; the natural thing was to give money, and it worked, I felt relatively instantly better. This, of course, is the short view, the big view and one more socially acceptable is that my very small contribution will go some way to finding a cure to spare other families the same distress.
Hardship, poverty, famine, and loss are just some of the causes that motivate many to action, igniting a sense of compassion and purpose that we often don’t know existed. But what worth do any of our selfless acts carry if we continue to neglect the immediate things that orbit our world; the comfort and freedoms we enjoy, the resources that we squander and the love we take for granted?
Like a broken record, I often find myself preaching the gospel of ‘Carpe Diem’ – seize the day‘! I’m a personal believer of ‘why put off to tomorrow what you can do today’, and I have to say that I’ve developed a particular aversion to those who consistently ‘talk’ about the things that they’d ‘love’ to do yet, more than often, fail to realise, and I might add that we’re not talking about scaling Mount Everest here (although some of the intrepid have managed just that!)
The definition of a ‘pipe dream’ is ‘An unattainable or fanciful hope or scheme’. So, do the things you claim you like or want to do fall under this definition? No? Then what’s stopping you? Because ‘no matter how well you plan your goals, they’ll never be more than pipe dreams unless you pursue them with gusto’.
Mean what you say, say what you mean – or stop talking about it.
If ever our eyes are opened to the fact that our existence on this earth is way too short it’s when we hear about the sudden, tragic and premature passing of the innocent. Here today, gone tomorrow.
Similarly, whatever motivates you to give to charity, be it that you’re a helpless selfless individual or the fact that it’s a metaphorical act of attrition for sins current and past, know that that charity well and truly does start at home. Dressing up as a chicken, shaving your head, ringing or texting a telephone number to donate money may appease your soul but true redemption comes from being able to proclaim that you are able to appreciate the blessings in your life, especially when compared to your less fortunate fellow man, and knowing that you treat those closest to you with love, honour and the support that they deserve, as you are respectful and courteous to those who cross paths of your life, and that first and foremost such decencies are afforded to yourself.
This week, whilst watching a YouTube video, I was first presented with a new Dove advert, very cleverly conceived, featuring a sketch artist and a series of women. The artist asks the women to describe to him how they look and he sketches them accordingly. The artist then has the women meet each other and asks them to describe each other to him for a separate portrait for comparison. The sad result was that, more than often, the self described portraits were much less flattering than those described by others. You can view the full video here. I’ve written about this very subject many times. Click here to read one of this site’s most popular articles.
Charity starts at home. It starts with you and yours. Ensure your oxygen mask is safely fastened before helping others with theirs. Anything else is just hypocrisy.
“You can only truly help those at their worse when you’re at your best”
Have a charitable Sunday 🙂
If I have permanent shelter, food in my belly & my physical & mental health, I consider myself very lucky – I know I work hard, but a higher being than myself has blessed me with opportunities that I might not have had. If I have these things, then I have more than millions of people in this world – Anything material after this is an added bonus… If I cannot spare a few pounds here and there to help those whom I admire in their goal to making this world just that tiny bit better for another human being, then shame on me.