Wednesday, March 26, 2014

The beauty of giving

A heavy political debate with Jake got me thinking about charity. I don't just mean charity in the organisational sense, but charity in our everyday environment. Whether that means giving a few pounds to the homeless guy you see on your way to work, helping an old lady across the street, giving your friend a lift to the airport or picking up litter that someone 'accidentally' left behind. I often help the homeless, there is no part of me that is unaffected by the sight of a man or woman on the street, cold and hungry. I am also not naive enough to believe that every homeless person I have given money to over the years has spent that money wisely on food or a bed for the night. I cannot, however, predict how that money was spent and I refuse to withdraw my charitable donation altogether in the event that my aid could have removed one of those people from the streets, if only for one night.

Charity begins at home and this is something I fully endorse. My family and friends, like many people, mean more to me than strangers. Though charity does not just surround the notion of money. Charity comes in all shapes and forms, whether aimed at people, pets or the planet. Slowly, our efforts to be charitable are being diminished by the notion that 'everyone is out for themselves'. This may be true and I am sure that most people I meet on a daily basis have no interest in helping me in any way, but I don't wish to lead my life by their example. There is nothing more admirable to me than a stranger holding the door open for me, or allowing me space to get on to a train, helping me pick up shopping that I've dropped on the way home, or lending me a pound when I have no change for the locker at the gym.

Arguably, there is no such thing as a selfless act. I like to think I am environmental, but my main purpose for picking up litter is because dirty streets (especially streets that I live on, or near) irritate me. I am also a true believer in Karma, I help others because I am certain that how you treat others determines how you yourself are treated. I know Karma is not as simple as helping an elderly lady carry her shopping and then finding a ten pound note on your doorstep (though I have once been that fortunate), but I think one chooses their own luck and a majority of that luck comes from how you decide to live your life.

If being charitable involves chasing down the man who just dropped his wallet, running 5K for your chosen charity, or turning your lights out for WWF's Earth Hour, then nothing is too difficult. If I have achieved nothing else this year, I hope to at least have given some of my time, money and energy to a good cause.

To find out more about WWF and all that they do, head over to their website...


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