We live in a time of fantastic exploration. Humanity has advanced dramatically in science, medicine, technology and education, but the greatest part of the world’s population still lives in need. Profit comes from the beginning, but today it is more important than normal because of the global hunger, poverty and wars. But what’s love? Is it a donation to the poor, or is it more important than thoughtless behavior without a heart call?
Charitable donation can involve giving the unfortunate money, products, time, care and kindness. Most forms of charity mean providing basic items of necessity, such as food, water, clothing, shelter, healthcare and else. There are so many charitable organizations in the world today. They allow people to donate either directly or online, through websites. Charitable organizations also include orphanages, food banks, religious institutes and hospitals for the poor. Donating things you don’t use anymore is one of the forms of charity. Not everyone is lucky enough to have lots of toys or warm clothes for winter. Sometimes people simply can’t find the job to earn enough money. Others are sick, disabled or elderly and can’t get around on their own. These are the cases when charity helps. If everyone made charity a part of their life and helped those who are in need, the world would become a better place to live. Mother Teresa once said: “To truly give charity, you must be free of selfishness!” And, it’s true. The acts of charity come in many different forms. If you have ever helped to plant a garden or gave your jar of coins to someone who needs it more than you, then you already know what charity is. However, true charity doesn’t only mean giving out money and unwanted items to others. True charity starts with a kind word given by you to someone on a bad day, with a sincere smile and with love.
My point is that charity can’t be forced. So it means that it must be sincere but sensible at the same time. Cause if you do charity unwillingly – it’s not a charity, but a favor. And if you give it irrational or too much – it can have bad consequences.
Desire to do charity
A wish to help somebody is very personal feeling which can show the person from the good side. But everyone is unique on this planet, so his thoughts and wishes too. For one person it is easy to help somebody, for another it can be not. The first person can have sources to help somebody or want to make it for own benefit, while the second can be shy, or want to help but don’t know how, or just want to make it in a secret, or doesn’t have any sources. But no one wants to be bad, so this feeling can be controlled from the side by different people. There are a lot of organizations on the streets, in the subway or in the café which ask you for donation for destitute and you do. But is it sincere gesture or just favor? You do it because really want to help or because you want these people get out of you? Or you do it because you don’t want to look bad in front of others? Hence, if it’s sincere – it is a charity, if it is unwillingly – it is not.
Superstars (singers, footballers, actors), which donate a huge amount of money, which take a part in charity organizations, plant trees or adopt children, do they do it from the heart? Can we call it charity? Or they just do it for public relations? I am sure that if you are doing something good, you should not do it for the sake of PR or promotion, but for the sake of that inner sense of happiness that you experience when you help.
I would say that my point is close to Kantianism – never deceive and coarse. Act with others as you would like them to treat you or as Kant said – “Act in such a way that you treat humanity, whether in your own person or in the person of any other, never merely as a means to an end, but always at the same time as an end.” But from my view, the biggest part of charity today is just a small part or even opposite of his words. Maybe people try to treat others as themselves, but still a lot of good things have done only for their own good. Charity is the personal act which has become an ethical burden and manifestation of human moral maturity. Catching charity, man is personally responsible for the act of assistance, for the recipient and for relations between them. And very important thing is that beneficence must be sensible and wise.
Imagine: you go to work, school, party etc and you meet an old granny in the subway asks for some money for the cure. Would you like to help her? Of course you will! (If you have money and have some moral principles). But few days after you meet her again, in the same spot and she asks for money again. And the next time the same situation. Maybe this cure is very expensive? Or maybe you should ask yourself – does all of this money go to her pocket? If dig deeply you can find out that she does it every day in the same metro station. And if you follow her, you’ll see that everything what she donate she gives to the some “boss” in the end of her trip. Will you give her money next time?
Very often at traffic lights young people collect money from motorists for charitable purposes. Usually, it is treatment of children from severe ailments. You can donate several times, but then you will start to have questions. Where do the money go and do they go for stated purposes? Why is the youth raising money? After all, at the age of 16-22 years priorities are often different from helping others. It is easy to find out, because the names of the funds can be written on boxes or t-shirts and not very pleasant information comes up. First, the collectors receive their percentage of all funds. Sometimes the reward can reach 20-30%. This is a little unpleasant moment. After all, you give money for the treatment of a child, but not for a new iPhone or an evening beer for an unemployed student.
Thus, a lot of charity projects do not reach their goal. Similar thoughts we can find in Utilitarian approach, where Tony Jackson, Oxfam food aid consultant says, that giving food doesn’t always benefit the starving. Moreover, the food that is giving often fails to reach those whose need is greatest and is diverted by others. Peter Singer in his ‘Famine, Affluence, and Morality’ talks about problem in East Bengal, that people dying from lack of food, shelter, and medical care. There he makes examples, how many money different countries donate to Bengal: “Britain, for instance, has given rather more than most countries. It has, to date, given £14,750,000. For comparative purposes, Britain’s share of the non recoverable development costs of the Anglo-‐French Concorde project is already in excess of £275,000,000, and on present estimates will reach £440,000,000.”
But where he took these numbers? Are they real? Or it just a words to make others believe that government is good and hence push ordinary people to donate, while money will only make rich people richer? If in the case of small organizations that collect money at traffic lights it is easy to track where the money go, then at the state level it is almost impossible. It remains only to believe in the figures given in the reports or there must be an organization, which can look for all types of donation, control it and prevent fraud in charity.
Here I want to talk about bad consequences if charity will be irrational or extra. First, the most radical on negativism is the view that philanthropy as such is meaningless and immoral, as it does not correct, but only aggravates the situation of poor and disadvantaged people. Extra charity can produce more people in need, not because rich people become poor, but because it is possible that people in need will assume that they are secure, they will multiply and next time it will be impossible to help them. It’s like in Utilitarian approach. Or maybe the rescued don’t have any morality principles, so they will not help others in farther life? It’s a risk to populate world with a bad people. Second, it is possible that money won’t reach the destitute. Moreover, if you don’t know where the money goes it is possible that you can sponsor illegal businesses like drug traffic, prostitution and arms trade.
Responses to Criticisms
One may argue that charity is not always a spiritual impulse. For example “AIDS Care Education and Training” which is engaged in the prevention of HIV infection in the world. This question applies to the all inhabitants of the planet, so staying on the sidelines is simply impossible and everyone should take a part in such charity otherwise it can lead to global consequences. Yes, that is true. But it turns out that people are deprived of the right to choose and do beneficence only because of the fear of the global consequences, which is non-verbal coercion, because fear is an effective means of influence. Therefore, I think that it is more correct to call “AIDS Care Education and Training” and organizations like this “well-becoming” than “charity”.
Other may argue that charity does not need to be sensible, because person is not always able to understand is the beggar a swindler. Yes, you never know for sure, but I want to remind you that if you donate to a fraud, it can go to the bad organizations and consequences will be more terrible than if you won’t donate at all. So it is better to be careful and if you are not sure about the beggar’s status, just ask this person about some confirmation – certified document, etc.
In this paper, I have outlined why it is in our best interest to think twice and be sincere. Hence, it is obvious that each of our action is valuable and that it is not the last one in a big chain of actions, which always has different consequences. Charity is not the exception. It is a face of good, literally translated from the original means love, the love that understands, that does not merely share the wealth of the giver, but in true sympathy and wisdom helps men to help themselves. And charity, same as love, can’t be forced.
O. Neill “The Moral Perplexities of Famine and World Hunger”
P. Singer “Famine Affluence and Morality”