Archive for December 1st, 2020

“But you were always a good man of business, Jacob,’ faltered Scrooge, who now began to apply this to himself.

‘Business!’ cried the Ghost, wringing its hands again. “Mankind was my business; charity, mercy, forbearance, and benevolence, were, all, my business. The deals of my trade were but a drop of water in the comprehensive ocean of my business!”

Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol

December 1, 2020. Giving Tuesday.

I am not a big fan of days like this.

Please don’t take that the wrong way. I am not being a Scrooge here. It’s not because I oppose the idea of giving or charity. I firmly believe in sharing what I can with others and I will be giving as much as I can afford today.

No, it’s just that relegating it to a single day allows people to send out a few bucks once a year then pat themselves on their backs for the good deed done.

And make no mistake, it is a good deed done.

And this is not meant to shame anyone into doing or giving more than they can. You should give for your own reasons, to fill your own inner needs, not to satisfy the scrutiny from others. You should give because you want to and feel the need to do so.

No, my aversion to this single day comes from my belief that our benevolence should be practiced on a day to day basis. 

The need and suffering of others doesn’t wait until this day for relief. The agencies and organizations that help others don’t operate only on or around this day. 

In the world as it is, our charity and benevolence is needed every single day of the year.

So, give a bit today, if you possibly can. The need is great this year.

I know that some of us may need that hand up and can’t give at all. I have been in that situation and know that feeling. But you can still practice a different sort of charity, one of the spirit. You can try to be more tolerant and forgiving of the deficits of others, maybe set your judgements of others aside. Lend a hand or a spare moment  to help someone. Perhaps in this small way we can begin to slow the river of mean-spiritedness and selfishness that seems to be running through our society at the moment.

But while we give today and hopefully throughout the year, let’s work in some way to end the need for charity and benevolence. As the late great novelist Chinua Achebe wrote:

“While we do our good works let us not forget that the real solution lies in a world in which charity will have become unnecessary.”

He was right. We have the means to have a world without hunger and abject poverty, one with greater equality and dignity, if only we could muster the will to make charity a thing of the past.

So this year, let’s take some advice from the ghost of old Jacob Marley and make mankind our business.

Do your good works, please, and have a good day.

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