Wednesday, February 17, 2010
That may seem like a weird quote to use for a blog about charity, but it has been something I have considered ever since I was young. Charity is something selfless; giving or sacrificing something for somebody or something else. Still, I remember this as the first insightful thought I had. Is it possible to be truly selfless in a charitable act?
When I was in year three, some people came round selling stickers saying ‘Lest we Forget’ for 50c. The proceeds went to war veterans. Something inside compelled me to buy one even though my friends said not to. “Think of what you can do with that money!” I still did it and when I got home my brothers laughed at me for wasting my money. They told my parents, thinking that they could further my embarrassment if more people knew of my stupidity. But my parents told me (and my brothers) that it was a very nice and generous thing to have done. I felt good.
Looking back at my hazy memory of the range of emotions that day - from the strange impulse of charity to the embarrassment of ‘wasting’ my precious dough - it seems that pride remains one of the most prevalent. I still don’t truly know what to make of this and it seems as though this is what lead to my long felt ideas of two-faced charity. Would people be even half as charitable if they didn’t receive some mild ego trip from it?
One character who has amazed me in this respect is Batman. He risks his life for Gotham but remains anonymous. In fact, his alter ego, Bruce Wayne, is viewed as a rich frivolous douche bag; camped up in his manor partying into the morning with the elite upper class. He doesn’t give a shit about the people. Yet we know better. At the end of The Dark Knight Batman elects to become the face of evil to preserve the positive work of the corrupted and recently deceased Harvey Dent. On the flip side, Tony Spark** (Iron Man for the non comic book nerds) can’t help revealing his alter ego, ready to take on the accolades and ridicule alike.
Now I’m no superhero (at least that’s what I want you to think), but I still like to explore the truth behind my charity. Whilst in Buenos Aires (capital of Argentina for the non geography nerds) I was walking to a second hand bookstore with 50 pesos in my pocket, just under a day’s budget, and not something I would like to part with lightly. I was ready to reignite my love for the written word, having not read a book for 3-4 months, and the budget traveller in me was thinking of spending maybe 20-25 pesos at most.
On my way I saw a crippled old lady with a kind face begging for money on the street. An idea flashed in my head that I should give her my fiddy and before I could chance a rebuttal I heard a voice in my head yelling DO IT! DO IT! DO IT! Out flashed my folded up billete and into her hand it went. Before looking at her new bounty, she smiled the sweetest of smiles. I couldn’t help but to smile back at it’s warmth. I kept walking and didn’t look back to see her reaction once she realised the value of my donation. This was my chance to test the valour of my deed. I swore to myself not to tell anyone what I had done; her smile would suffice as a reward. To this day - and I guess this is the day it all comes undone - I have told no one. And to be honest I still don’t know how pure my generosity was...Perhaps in the moment it was pure and the truth of all the moments that followed is inconsequential despite the potential tainted nature of my future conscience? Or maybe I- You know what? I’m gonna stop before I get all hyper-analytical on you guys.
So anyways, to get to the point of this post…On March 11th-ish I am shaving my head for the Leukaemia Foundation and would like you all to donate a bit of your own precious dough for the cause. And to make it easy for you, I will let you do it anonymously so you don't have to suffer the indignant ego boost usually associated with giving. I will bear the burden of all the glory of this amazing feat of charity. It will be received by me and me alone. Damn! I am just such an awesome person for doing this…aren’t I?
"...but on the other side, they can be gentle too" - The Flaming Lips
**It's Tony Stark...all my comic book nerd cred is lost
- Eden The Charitable (while listening to Lupe Fiasco’s Food and Liquor)
And this video one more time cos I love it