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What is Real Charity

In this age of Nanny Stating, born again Christians, nutty Muslims and rabid Atheists, I had a recent realization about what is “charity”.

Firstly, I will define what charity is in the view of the above: Giving a good (including money) or service to someone that is deemed as “needy” by the person or group actually giving said good or service. In these groups’ view, you can be charitable by extension – so even if you aren’t giving the good or service directly to the recipient, because you caused a good or service to be given, you are still charitable. Because of this, people still get that little rush created from the goodwill towards men.

However, this is all wrong. Let me use an example:

You sell sandwiches and you have 10 to sell every day. You don’t like it, but you assume that at least 1 sandwich will be a 100% loss for some reason, and you’re ok with that. Now, during your day you come across a very hungry man that is desperately poor. You give him your 1 sandwich that you don’t mind losing and feel great for having been helpful. You have been charitable, right?

Well, no – you haven’t. To see why, we have to take the example to the extreme limits. Let’s continue with the example:

The next day, this man wins the lottery and is instantly a millionaire. Now, even though you knew you were going to lose the money for that 1 sandwich the other day, no matter how much you may want to deny it – you are tempted to be an indian giver (even if it’s for just a heartbeat). This is because you know he can afford it.

Let’s continue the example in the extreme: you have no problem with being an indian giver so you ask him to pay up for the sandwich. This means you were never being charitable at all. You were just willing to give the man a debt that you had very low expectations he would ever pay back.

Some might say, “I would never consider doing that!” Most people would never do violence on someone in the heat of the moment, but virtually everyone has considered it – and this is really no different. Whether you would act on it or not, you have projected a cost to him. You have put him in a subservient role, and this robs him of his dignity. You did this because there is a WAY outside chance that you could get full payment for that sandwich and deep down, you would rather strike a deal than just lose 100% of the cost of the sandwich.

Note that I never said that you wish ill on the poor man. You would rather he was not poor and that he could buy the sandwich from you. This general and natural good will towards your fellow human is what churches, governments and aid organizations use to beat you over the head to get donations out of you. They make you subservient to get your money, time, or knowledge – and then they go subjugate some welfare recipient, who doesn’t really want free stuff, but rather the ability to live like you do. We think ill of professional beggars because we know they are actively unwilling to engage in making a deal. They just want.

Real Charity:

So what is real, true-blue, honest to God charity? Real Charity is the willingness on the part of the seller to make a deal with the buyer at a huge loss to enable the buyer. Take our example again – if instead of just putting the man in your debt, you instead struck a deal with him that sucks for you. Maybe he dances a jig or tells you a funny joke or draws a crappy picture for you in return for the sandwich. You still get the warm fuzzies because you have helped out an unfortunate man, and maybe you just learned a new joke, or you have a picture to show people, or you have a story about a man dancing a jig for a sandwich. Either way – you have each enriched the other in some fashion. The next day, when he wins the lottery, you do not have the urge to collect because you made a deal. He paid for his sandwich. Instead, you may have a feeling of “He can pay me for the next sandwich now.”

The poor man has all of his dignity still, because he doesn’t owe you anything. He made a deal with you, and the deal is done. You can not ask for money from him without him asking you for something else in return.

Categories: Morality
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