You may have heard of Black Friday and Cyber Monday. There’s another day you might want to know about: Giving Tuesday. The idea is pretty straightforward. On the Tuesday after Thanksgiving, shoppers take a break from their gift-buying and donate what they can to charity. Bill Gates
I wanted to think about charities a bit as I am involved in quite a few. The whole basis of a charity is to help someone else. Some charities are (low) paid positions. Some are completely volunteer. Some are paid an actual living wage. Listen to this TED talk about charity if you have time. He talks about thinking about the salaries of CEO’s in non-profit vs. for profit companies. I especially like this question “Why is it ok to make tons of money not helping people but if we want to make a little money spending time doing something that does help people that is looked down on?” (paraphrased).
I believe each of us should make it our goal to work the government out of the “charity” business as much as we can. I believe the role of the government should solely be to provide security for it’s citizens, whoever they may be. If people are free to go about their business not harming anyone that would be a wonderful society. The government has to keep people from starving, as that is a part of providing security. This is a wonderful idea, in theory. Unfortunately in practice there can be people who will exploit this system so they never have to work in their lives or work very little. They are abusing the system. This is unfortunate and I don’t believe that most people who receive that help are in that situation. I have faith that most of humanity is “good people” who honestly want to work and get ahead. We should all recognize that. We should also all work to help those who need help as much as possible.
I listened to a speaker at a church recently. He was a missionary, meaning he went to other parts of the world to “Share the good news of Jesus”. I don’t completely understand what his exact message was to those people as there are many Christian sects and they all preach a little different stuff. The part of the story that really was touching to me was after their mission left and they had spent 2 years teaching people about Jesus, then the locals started a bunch of outreach missionaries such as providing food to the needy. Now people will say “Look at the great things these people who were taught about Jesus are doing now”. I believe that one aspect of religion is that it allows us to be vulnerable without being completely vulnerable. We always have something to drop back on, to say “Well that wasn’t totally me that was religious me.” To protect our strength if someone wanted to joke about our vulnerability. I also think a lot of people feel like they need permission to do good. They don’t feel they have any authority. I believe that part of what the missionary gave these people was a purpose and some authority. I wonder if the missionary had come in saying “We should work tirelessly to love others.” If that would have gotten the people to work towards helping each other quicker.
Another aspect of charity is that we are told we aren’t supposed to brag about giving to charities. That is supposed to be a personal and humble experience. If we give to charities but then go telling others about it that is not being very humble. I think part of the issue with this is the bible verse
Giving to the Needy
1. “Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven. 2. “So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. 3. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4. so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.
Maybe we could announce it just a little? Maybe that would encourage others to follow the lead? Much like the opening thought about CEO salaries for non-profit vs. for profit, I pose the question “Why is it OK to tell others how much money you have by purchasing expensive houses/cars/etc but it’s not OK to discuss how much you are helping others?” Why is that the “bad” thing? We need to get out of the cycle of being negative when others are expressing their pursuits of helping others.
To provide a few things to think about I want to ask:
How much are you giving to charity? Both time and money are valuable. Honestly time is perhaps more important as it will help you realize how much you really have. It will eventually inspire more monetarily giving once you understand the organizations you are giving to.
The second question I wanted to pose was in response to my continued struggles with “the followers of Jesus” in a general sense, not towards any one denomination. Do you think it is more important that others know about Jesus or that others are provided with security? I believe that a lot of “believers in Christ” think that it is their duty to spread the name of Jesus so others can say the magic words “I believe in Jesus” and thus be “saved for eternity”. I am personally thinking along the lines of “If there is an all powerful and loving God he should be more than capable of taking care of our eternity. We should be more worried about acting like Jesus to others here, helping them prosper on this earth and extending their lives and making them better in the here and now.” I would argue that if you are more worried about people’s eternity you aren’t actually showing your faith, you are showing your lack of faith because you are still worried about eternity. I want to end as much suffering on this earth while I am here.
The reason all this ties together is that I am arguing that there shouldn’t be any such things as a religious charity that is focused on “saving people for eternity”. We should be more focused on helping others here and if they happen to ask we can mention our true motivations for helping them, if it’s really not just because you love them as fellow human beings.
This brings up one more situation related to Jesus and charities and non-profits. Many non-profits are religious based and are dedicated to spreading the name of Jesus, even in places that it might be dangerous to people’s lives to even know about Jesus, much less believe in him! Do you think it’s more important that people believe in Jesus in this life or that they are provided security here? I believe that if we really care about others we should be more worried about working to provide them a safe environment that they can then develop beliefs in instead of pushing our religion on others and then praising their bravery as they are killed for believing something we introduced them to.
What do you think?