I received a phone call last night from a charity organization I have supported for years. Donations were down and the nonprofit was confronted by a special need. Could I make an additional contribution? It was the third call of this kind I’d received from similar organizations in as many days.
As I listened to the request, my gaze fell upon my folder stuffed with, as yet, unmet pleas for charitable contributions. In fairness, I had to turn the caller away, though my guilt was overwhelming and I spent the rest of the evening feeling depressed.
I tried to distract my thoughts by reading. It didn’t work. A magazine, I’d picked up contained an article about Uganda — a place where I’d spent two wonderful weeks in the 1960’s. The article wasn’t a travelogue, however. The subject was about the volunteer work the author was doing in the small village of Ddegeya.
I would like to believe that it is possible to do good that is only good, to forget that every act ripples outward, that a small thing can have secret and even violent effects that are impossible to undo.(“The One in Front of You: A Consideration of Charity” by Sallie Tisdale, Harper’s, July 2012, pg. 51)
She was referring, in part, to the unintended consequences that occur when people from western cultures interact with rural Ugandans who live in unimagined poverty.
We dangle desire—Nikes, laptops, cameras, iPods, our bountiful health… above all our money. (Ibid pg. 51)
Her observations brought me back to my earlier phone call that evening. I would have liked to do more but now it seems, even the act of charity must be examined. Life is so complex. All one can do is one’s best.
(Courtesy of www.primairekinetix.com)