Contemplating the Contradictions of Charity within Socialism
Concerns about the rights and wrongs of charity often stimulate debate. Is there a difference between the natural desire to help others and organised, impersonal charities? Think Left’s recent blog about philanthropy and democracy addressed this.
Sue Fairweather, a socialist and a Christian ponders whether there is a congruency or conflict between these with regard to “charity”. She shares her thoughts here.
Thinking more about these justifiable concerns about ‘charity’ when this video appeared on my Community page.
Every year for more than 40 years we have had VAPs from all over the world working in our Community for a period of two to three weeks. Othona, is a charity, which welcomes different charitable workers from afar. Without doubt ‘we’ are very glad to welcome the ‘administration’. Would I, or ‘we’, hold out the same hand of friendship to let’s say the Bill Gates Foundation?
I am reminded of a documentary discussion where a member Doctors Without Borders/ Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) challenged a CEO of the aforementioned BGF as to their philanthropic works in the early days of conflict in war torn Libya. The doctor had two objections; the formation of a ‘safe corridor’ for the fleeing refugees of war which in fact left them as easy targets; that the ‘aid’ provided, despite being ample for much humanitarian need, was selective (some would say in the manipulators’ hands) and should be directed to, and more importantly, by the ‘troops’ on the ground like the MSF.
There is a difference in the perspectives of these two organisations. I would suggest that the ‘wealth’ of MSF’s difference comes with their direct humanitarian aid to the people from the people of all nations. Where the Bill Gates’ Foundation functional aid worth millions of dollars goes to is unclear. It comes from ‘on high’ (not quite ‘high’ enough for a spiritual sounding me) and appears to run a manipulative path. I have no time for an entrepreneur, Bill Gates, who openly lectures that he can reduce (present tense) the world population by his inoculation programmes and health programmes. There are children in many developing nations who are left disabled, sometimes dying, having been the recipients of such ‘charity’.
Building a world where worth and not wealth is the primary function of society can be the only way forward. Work is a natural by-product of that aim…more about that much later. I have mentioned earlier my faith and political grounding for anything I write (somewhat reluctantly for it is difficult for me to marry my brain as holistically as my being) which leads me to the two JCs.
JC1 gives us ‘the greatest of all is Love’.
JC2, Jeremy Corbyn, busier as us humans are, says this in answer to a question of where his optimism is based, “In the fundamental good in people, and [a belief] that you can create a society where people do feel valued, do feel involved and can make a contribution”.
It was with joy that our discussions led me through ‘war and peace’ to a closer definition of Charity, albeit a necessary biblical definition for me. Wrongly I gave three WW2 Spitfires as bearing the nicknames of Faith, Hope and Charity’…the names were right but the plane was wrong. You cannot imagine how I feel presently that these craft were in fact three Gloster Gladiators that were unpacked and assembled as the only original air defence in the bombardment of the home of my youth, Malta. My cup runneth over. The use of the word Charity has inbuilt memories of benevolence and malevolent situations. Nothing changes, or does it?
Yesterday I consulted more than one bible in my search for the meaning of that elusive word ‘charity’. I knew the exact text where it was coupled with faith and hope. My surprise came that my usual modern version gave faith, hope and…Love. I’m rather saddened, being a conceptual dinosaur, that the loving name of charity has been left behind with King James!
Now to stretch between the spiritual and the political. A wise councillor once told me of the limitations of our language. Greeks, and we must all spare another moments thought for them here, had several different words for love. If I remember correctly the anglicised three were Eros (well we know where that one’s going!), Charisma (of the Spirit), and Agape...the most important perhaps for our purpose…the love between all people. Using the same procedure Greeks had a second set for that simple item, the chair. The first you could see, the second you could measure, the third, the one where both my faith and my politics reside, is the one that ‘we know you can sit in’ and bear your weight! The chair will support you, the choice is yours when you’re doing the window shopping of ‘looking and measuring’.
Mine is assured by both JCs but so that I’m not ‘too heavenly minded to be of no earthly good’ (a favourite concern for a Christian) my vote is to be cast for Jeremy Corbyn and no other on the voting slip.