In examining the concept of charity and what it means in today’s world it is easy to feel that we have moved away from the charitable acts of the common man. Charity has become big-business focusing on the economic approach to charity and we tend to forget that individuals and their actions still play a role. The small things that people do for others everyday may not get centre stage attention yet they are so very important in maintaining our sense of shared humanity, our inter-connectedness and need for each other. Each day there are acts of unconditional love practiced beyond the bonds and bounds of family and even friends that hold people in place, help people to remain grounded and to feel valued. These demonstrations of love can appear miniscule in the big scheme of things or in comparison to a well-managed charity campaign but they are the very acts that I believe were envisioned in the original teachings of charity and compassion.
I do believe we as a society have drifted away from a connected and human concept of charity and that we have seemingly limited the opportunities for corresponding actions of true charity by the common man but at the same time I also believe that many true acts of love of all mankind happen day after day. These are vital, beautiful and inspiring.
I once read a profound passage in a book that articulated what I am trying to say here and thus I share it with you.
And there & then I realized something, that in every village, every town, every city & every country, there are people like George doing kind, decent, selfless things simply because to do those things is right. They do not live in an active pursuit of justice & parity & their intentions & influence is not dramatic. But every day, they are lifting elderly relations out of bed, collecting shopping, giving lifts, sharing cups of tea, passing the time of day. I thought how easy it is to expose yourself, via the news if nothing else to everything that is disgusting & heartbreaking about the world; & how difficult it is to remember that for all the wanton acts of violence there are unsung acts of generosity. For all the evil out there, there is warmth and compassion. A cold child starves another is tucked up in bed with a full belly. A blind man is beaten up in his home another is visited by a neighbour who reads to him”
Relative Stranger: A Life After Death; Mary Loudon
That there are many people just like “George” in our world makes me optimistic for the future. Recognition of the importance of our each and every act in enhancing our progress towards a caring and compassionate society is in my mind what we can do in a world where we sometimes feel we are inconsequential.
Irene McDermott © 2011