Charity is an act of altruism that aims to elevate the suffering of those less fortunate, or that’s what it should be in a perfect world. It’s abundantly clear that we do not live in a perfect world. There are many who offer their heart and soul when they give away worldly possessions to the less fortunate, and there are those who offer hallow trinkets to add to their already inflated ego.
This unfortunate conundrum of contraries was clearly itched when I was attending a charity event with one of my colleagues. We were invited to participate to raise more money for a relief fund that helps the needy families in neighboring villages. Typically, these things are mostly people gathering to hear a few speeches and mingling with others. These occasions used to have a nonchalant and casual feel to them that made them quite enjoyable.
It’s easy to imagine the shock my colleague and I felt when we stepped into what seemed like a soiree in the middle of Monte Carlo’s most exquisite hotel. We were in the middle of the day, but everyone was dressed to the nine. People were milling around in haute couture ensembles, high fashion shows, perfect hair and makeup. Everyone was decked with gold and jewels of all shapes and forms. My colleague even suggested that we leave since we are so underdressed, but I told him we should stay because they are overdressed.
Instead of the light-hearted atmosphere, almost everyone was rigid and stiff. They were all staring down at each other trying to prove they are somehow superior. It seemed that everyone wanted to outshine the others and degrade them. Nothing made my partner or I feel that the participants shared a passion for the common good. It was a blatant study in hypocrisy! Very few had genuine smiles while the conversation was stale and stiff.
Is this what charity is about these days? Is it an auction where each bidder wants to flaunt their wealth? Shouldn’t charity start from the heart? Aren’t charity events an opportunity to speak up for the less fortunate? This event that I attended was almost devoid of all the sympathy and empathy that real charity fosters.
My heart is heavy as I contemplate what had happened. If only half of those jewels being flaunted that day were given away, the events could have easily doubled its contributions. The less fortunate should not be under the whim of the rich. True generosity is giving when you have so little to offer, but you have a sincere wish to help. It is not paying an entrance fee for an event to boost your possessions.