If you were asked who you most dislike out of the people alive in the world today who would you say?
I guess obvious choices would be heads of regimes and tyrants etc, but you’ll be surprised who I dislike intensely. Bob Geldof.
I think he’s a nasty, vicious, angry man. May I explain? Years ago I remember coming home from school and hearing him shout and swear on national television ‘give us your f***ing money’
Ummmmmmm, no Bob, I don’t think I will actually, and certainly not if you ask me like that. By all means ask me, and nicely, if you have given up all your worldly goods, and you don’t have millions in the bank and numerous houses etc, but don’t ask me when you haven’t, and don’t ask me in this manner because I really don’t like it. Ask my teachers, they will concur.
That was a number of years ago, and he hasn’t changed much. He still looks like he has nowhere to live even though he has, and he still has the aggression, and another worthwhile cause.
‘Do they know it’s Christmas’ was such a patronising song in so many ways. No reason to dwell on that now. I guess it got the job done….
Anyway, the point of this piece is to discuss charity and what it means to us etc. I do think there are some golden rules.
I learnt years ago that if you give someone £5 you don’t have the right to tell them how to spend it. Sounds simple? OK, fine. Do you like cigarettes? Think they are worthwhile for anyone? Give a starving person £5 and see them walk out of a shop with cigarettes instead of food. See what I mean? If the person you give the money too chooses to live for the moment that is there choice, not yours.
Ok, so just give to a charity? Well, uummmm yes, you could do that but most governments are corrupt so very little of the money you give gets to where it needs to and also did you know that charities in this country only need to spend 40% of their donations on their cause? The rest they can put down to marketing etc. Still, those aside charities in the UK are just basically brilliant and so are all the people who work for them.
What are the other options? Well I’m saying it’s probably not good to give someone on the street money, and definitely don’t give to Bob, and some, not all of your money will get lost overseas so, can charity begin at home?
Yes, but don’t give someone money, give them what they need.
It isn’t about what it is you give, it is about the value of it to the person you are giving it to. And this is relative and nothing to do with money.
For example a freezing glass of water is not too welcome on a freezing cold day but a hot drink would be lovely.
Just as in a pair of gloves in the summer is useless but in the cold of winter; they could be very handy indeed.
And also bear in mind, we are odd, so some people won’t actually think to ask for what they actually need. This could be the same for people you are giving presents too this year.
I know that Britain is hated in some parts of the world but I am pretty sure we give more to charity per head of population than pretty much any other western country. Yes, we may be construed as an arrogant bunch but we are generous.
If you talk about giving does it count?
Well, I think it still does yes. Giving is extremely satisfying, and liberating, in an odd kind of way. Helping others, I mean really helping someone, is actually quite a novel concept for me.
And my advice, don’t be detached. Don’t give £20 to a charity over the phone. You can do this too but I would suggest you try another approach. Give your hat or your pair of gloves, or your coffee, or your bacon sandwich to someone instead of walking past them as they shiver peering into a bin.
Talk to them, look them in the eye, and then try not to exude too much emotion as they offer to shake your hand and wish you a Merry Christmas. And if they say no, or ask for a different flavour sandwich, or a red hat not a black one, just be polite but firm back. Ask them do they want it or not? I bet they will say yes.
And always remember, you could be in their position a lot sooner and faster than you think.
Mark Scotchford © 24/12/2014