Synchronicity never fails to amaze and fascinate me. Lately, it appears many folks are looking about and seeing the world as a sad, brutal and all around miserable place. Without a single doubt, it certainly can and appears that way. The problems seem insurmountable and as a lumped mountain of human evil? The problems are insurmountable. No one person, nor even a group of people can make a discernable dent in that mountain of suffering. As people we need to get over ourselves, first. We simply cannot stop war. We cannot stop the abuse of the vulnerable or diffuse a suicide bomber with a hug.
Petitions to despotic governments are not worth the time it takes to write or type our names. Sending money to huge charitable corporations are great for easing our own conscience but when you really take a look at their spreadsheets? Most of the money is used to ensconce many of them in cushy offices, pays for first class plane tickets to yet another swanky fundraising affair.
As a species, as members of a society, we all need to stop and look around. Find a way to spread a little caring near to us; where we can actually make a difference. Imagine if everyone did just one small good deed per day – imagine the impact this could have. The real and tangible impact. Not simply filling out a cheque, mailing it off and hoping that the charity of our choice knows what to do with it. Few do.
The SPCA for example, in my hometown, would send my mother all sorts of gifts in order to secure another donation. She kept returning them with a note to stop sending the gifts, that the money spent on these items would be far better spent feeding and housing an unwanted animal. To no avail…the gifts kept coming until she finally decided that this was a very ill-managed charity and decided to send her donation elsewhere, to shelters that manage to subsist without CEO’s and ill-conceived fundraising campaigns. She told me, I told my family, they told people and as a result, I imagine the SPCA lost a number of donations which were re-directed to other charities, also involved with animals but without the obviously, over inflated budget of the SPCA.
A co-worker of mine has decided that she will celebrate her birthday by working at a homeless shelter kitchen, providing food to the homeless. This action makes a difference. It isn’t a monumental, media grabbing charitable work but it has far more meaning than huge media campaigns, glossy envelopes or yet another colour of ribbon.
I ceased donating money to a particularly large Breast Cancer charity; they keep sending me large, embossed envelopes stuffed with highly glossed newsletters. I know how much this would cost to send out. I know the impact of the chemicals used to create those glossy pages. I know the impact of the decimation of the trees required to manufacture the paper. This represents money that could be put to far better use than to provide yet another photo op for the directors of the charity. I donate money to a local hospital. I donate money to no-kill shelters that operate locally. I donate to local homeless and women’s shelters. I refuse to donate to any charity that resorts to heavy duty mail-outs. I watch their expenses through a variety of different web sites that help to interpret who is and who is not spending my money wisely.
Making the world a better place requires an examination of our ego. Letting the light shine in on our own lives as we are bombarded virtually every minute of every day, with death, destruction, rape and torture is a Herculean task. Wandering about, sad and disheartened will only serve to create an apathy, a dangerous apathy; one that says to us, “Why bother? There’s nothing I can do!” Sure there is.
Lower your opinion of yourself and look around you. There is suffering in your own neighbourhood, in your own city. If you are religious? Every single religion teaches that charity begins at home; Judaism, Islam, Christianity, Hinduism, Buddhism and even the various Neo-Pagan paths teach this simply message. Share yourself with those that have-not.
Charitable corporations are not the “have-nots” – they “have”, by and large, more than any of us could ever dream of acquiring. Do what you can to lighten the burden of someone else. If you don’t have money? Do what my co-worker is doing – take a few hours out of a day and bring a little sunshine, a little hope for the human condition to a shelter – homeless if that’s what you want, an animal shelter if that is where your heart leans. Help an elderly person carry their groceries. Do a kindness of some sort every day and it becomes a part of your personality. It becomes who you are and lightens your own burden. The way to change the world, is through our own actions. Through grassroots. Not through the corporate structure of larger-than-life “charities”. Take a look at this article, the act of one man, granted, one incredible man and how he has brought hope to so many through HIS personal actions. http://www.dnaindia.com/india/report-73-year-old-tamil-nadu-librarian-donated-rs-30-crore-to-the-uneducated-poor-1928555
We can all make a difference when we learn the meaning of altruism. Do a kindness with no expectation of recognition or pat on the back; that isn’t what kindness or charity is about. Make your own little corner of this reality a little brighter; if we all do this? Then the light will shine on more and more of us. We’ll never rid ourselves of those who create the dark, the evil but we can offer a place of refuge to those who seek to escape it.