Giving – And telling about it

Frankly Speaking

There are just hours before Christmas 2012-2013 formally ends.

The Christians would have us believe, even accept, that the Christ child was/is the greatest ever gift given to humankind, whatever your own religious persuasion.

Thus, I suppose, the seasonal tradition of gifts giving is destined to be a pivotal element of the now all-pervasive festival.

From individuals to families to workplaces and national institutions, gifts are exchanged from the heart from the soul and with love. Charity then becomes a characteristic. Charity is, of course, “goodwill toward or love of humanity; an act, a feeling or generosity; assistance to the needy, the less fortunate amongst us.

Frankly Speaking, I’m a little impatient with this so-called concept of “giving back”. Stores, other businesses, trumpet this “giving back” to the community after they have made huge, perhaps year-long profits from that community. But some of the “giving-back“ during this season here has been impressive, even unprecedented – seven motorcars, other vehicles and millions included.

This is only obliquely relevant but my readings illustrate vividly that often, the poor – made so by national circumstances beyond their own control – cannot afford to bother about the source of charity even when it is presented to them in the form of “legitimate” employment. Prime examples are the thousands of coca farmers in South America who produce the leaves, caring not whether that produce is transformed into substances that later wreck lives.

As in Guyana these days, the poor care not that their employers might be drug barons, fuel smugglers or money-launderers. Indeed, the needy can point to criminality in high places and may regard their dubious employers as life-saving, successful role-models! One colleague I have loves to intone: “The needy got to live” But back to giving.

The giving, the publicity

I suspect that I explored this social phenomenon months or years ago.

During Christmas in Guyana there now seems to be an increase in both the commercial giving and the personal and institutionalized charitable acts. As discussed before, the divine gift seems to inspire this seasonal generosity from the Office of the President to Corporation to Salvation Army.

But do you notice the intense, managed and professional publicity that attend these “acts of kindness”? I often wonder just why the publicity is necessary. It was easy to discover the most obvious answers.

Firstly, the commercial business–place is still (continuously) advertising its products, services and events during and beyond any “season”.

These “lucky” customers shopped here, so they were entitled to chances. They won and you know more about us.

Secondly, the registered charity or related organization, from the homeland or Diaspora has to announce its generosity and kindness, because it wants the public, the beneficiaries and its sponsors and donors to know that their funding and resources were indeed legitimately distributed as intended. So lights, cameras, media!

But it’s the third aspect of publicity – giving that intrigues me. There might be a modest group even club, with a budget with provision for some targeted donation, or an individual seeking to initiate recognition or announce their presence to the community or nation. Hence the photograph and the video for public consumption.

Most times I see nothing inherently wrong with the attention grabbing, of that sort. But too often I detect strong elements of self-aggrandisement, a yearning for personal praise and attention. The recipients, the beneficiaries, as mentioned above, have little time to care about the donor’s objective. They are just grateful.

Personal, New Years Day

I understand one Holy Book advises that “it is better to give than to receive”; that we should never tire in doing good and that living wealthy is not a sin, but dying so  without helping the needy is .

My appeal is that we should give from the heart with long-term plans for assisting the poor out of poverty for life. We must find ways of giving to initiate the recipients’ positive, productive, self-improvement after receiving.

A relatively new civil society forum, soon to unfold here, had me go out on New Years Day to merely begin our structured assistance service and programme. Grinding poverty greeted me as much as the “new year did”. Eight human beings in a small shack! Who’s to blame? That mother who has mismanaged her life? Society? Government? All of the above? Discuss and give when you can.

The Wicked’s Wealth….

The Christian lady had told me, vociferously, that “the wealth of the wicked will be transferred to the righteous”. Wicked, righteous? I was not immediately educated. So she directed me to her Holy Bible, Proverbs 13:22.

It says that “A good man leaveth an inheritance to his children’s children; and the wealth of the sinner/wicked is laid up for the just/the righteous”.

I must return to this Biblical assurance for I still am grappling with the ramifications. What does the latter portion mean? The state forfeits the convicted Drug Baron’s assets and is free to distribute same to the needy?

The Sinner’s “wealth” is okay to be blessed for good deeds? Could some real knowledgeable Christian scholar assist me here?

2013 Beckons…

Whether the Haags Bosch Landfill, the touted crematorium or the new movie cinemas, can we get it right in this land, in this year?

Injunction! Litigation! The courts as arbiter. For justice and development this year?

Coming next Friday: Growing up in Blackouts – And what the  US State Department and the DEA know

“Til next week



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