Money plays a large role in our every day lives, it defines us, more or less.
What do we not pay for? I can buy myself something to eat, somewhere to prepare my food, somewhere to live, something to do, something to wear, ways to be pretty, ways to be happy, in fact. I can even buy myself a clean conscience.
I was watching TV this morning and encountered at least three adverts for charity donations. One was for saving the Bengal tiger as apparently there are only 5000 left. The next one showed pictures of starving children, asking to donate too and the third advert asked for donations to help fugitives from Syria.
Don’t get me wrong, donations are very important and a charity or organisation needs them to do what they do, also all these causes are very important too, but I can’t help thinking we’re making it too easy.
I feel like the message of all these organisations is: You can help people if you pay money.
Most people don’t see the work that’s being done with that money, so I believe that in our minds we slowly start to feel that the only thing we need for a clear conscience is to make a donation once in a while. And when we’ve made that donation, we don’t have to do anything else anymore.
I remember when I was in Frankfurt about three years ago and it was the one of the first times I was even there. I saw a muslim woman, covered in black, she was being yelled at by her husband and he left her there while she collapsed. I stopped and turned around, but I’ll honestly tell you I didn’t know what to do. Luckily another woman went up to her to help and I felt proud of her, ashamed of myself.
But I was just one of many who had passed her and her husband. There were so many who just walked by, didn’t even turn to look and ignored her when she clearly needed help.
Yet we all say we’re good people. When we transfer that money – a matter of about ten minutes – we talk ourselves out of doing anything else, out of actively helping someone else.
I remember a time when there were so many things to donate to. I think it was when there had been that huge earthquake in Japan in 2011 when people felt so devastated and donated lots of money right away, it was the next Haiti (earthquake a year before)
The thing was, everything else then fell behind in priority. Any other catastrophes, for example the flooding in Thailand, remained mostly unseen or at least undonated to. People felt that we had done enough to help, we didn’t need to donate anymore, our conscience was clean. We turned off the TV with the pictures of all the loss and destruction and moved on.
I’m not saying to stop donating, not at all. I’m saying that when you’ve donated, keep your eyes open and, especially, your heart.