I’m not a big fan of charity.
That might sound mean.
I want to help people and see those in need looked after and made well, fed, clothed, housed and allowed to compete for what they need to build a life and a family on a fair playing field.
Charity usually is there to paper over the cracks of a system which doesn’t allow them to do that. Charity is the sticking plaster society slaps on the wounds it inflicts on people who ‘lose’ in the rigged violence of life.
Charity often does more to make the giver feel okay about living in an inequitable, and frequently iniquitous, system than it does to make the recipient better.
We could, I know, argue about that.
However, whatever my feelings about it, I still have the urge to help and have over the years, guiltily it must be said, colluded with the continuance of a system of social injustice and sticking plasters by giving to charity in various ways.
I tried to do so again this week.
I regularly take bags of surplus but perfectly good clothing, shoes, books and other items which my family have decided are no longer required, to charity shops for them to sell.
This gently salves my conscience over the wasteful conspicuous consumption of a western lifestyle, the destruction of the environment through wasted consumption of resources, and allows me to support in a small way those who can’t afford full price items and put some money in the pockets of the causes the shops espouse.
Hypocrisy I know but there you are I’m a complicated guy.
But it apparently isn’t just me that is a bit cynical about charity. Those who work in the system and those who volunteer for it are not always the ministering angels of mercy they might be.
We currently only run one car and my wife was out at work so I couldn’t take a big load to the shops in the village this week. Being back in atrial fibrillation means I am not quite as fit as I think I am, but I filled a couple of large carrier bags and pottered off into the village.
I arrived at the first shop at 1540 hours. The shop is open, according to the front door, until 1600 hours. It was shut and the steel shutters down and the interior empty of life.
Okay, these things happen. There is another shop down the main street. I could see that was open. There were racks of items for sale on the pavement outside and the door was open. So I trundled off down the street and arrived with my two bags of gifts. I went up to the open door and was about to enter when the person in charge swept past inside, pushing a vacuum cleaner. She paused to glare at me and nod towards the door. On the front of this door was a notice saying that although they were open until 1600 hours, they would in future not receive donations after 1530hours. She remained adamant that they were not open to receive the offerings I brought.
I pushed on and did the shopping I had also gone for and walked back home considerably more laden than I had anticipated.
It is apparently even harder to do good deeds in today’s climate.
I may have to return to my basic position of charity being a bad thing.