In 2018, everyone wants to seem like the “good doer” or the volunteer who spends every weekend giving back to the community. While on a smaller scale these philanthropic practices may work, what are we doing to the communities overseas who may not have the resources for the upkeep of our “good doings”?
In an article online I found a short story entitled “Counterfeit Money” by Charles Baudelaire. This short story describes the narrator and a friend offering a beggar spare change. The friend offers more money and the narrator lets him know how nice that was. But, the money the friend gave the beggar was counterfeit. The friend feels good for what he did because now the beggar believes he has been helped when really he has just been given false hope.
A real-world example of this is when a charity or organization goes to a small village in Africa or some other developing country to build a school but doesn’t provide the resources to that village to keep the school in operation. While it may feel good at first to have “helped”, did we really do anything beneficial for that village, or just something to make us feel better about ourselves? There is a lot that needs to be done after building a school.
Teachers need to be provided. Materials and other needs for the school to stay running – things that aren’t often provided in charity work like this.
Alas, I am not saying philanthropic work isn’t good, but that the charities that go out and do these things need to be more mindful of what a city, town or village can actually provide for themselves once they are gone. And, if they can’t keep a small school running, to give them the resources needed to keep it going. All too often we see nation’s giving other smaller nations money to better the small villages situations, but that money almost always stays at the top and lets the rich get richer.
Baudelaire raised the question: Who benefits more from charitable acts, the giver or the receiver? Often in this day and age, it is the giver. The giver receives praise and recognition for what they did but has not seen the work through and the receiver is still struggling. Again, this does not happen in every case, but it should be something charity and charity workers are aware of when they go about their work.
When helping the little guy, make sure you don’t give them a broken ladder.
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