Last week, one of the drivers, Mr. J, came upstairs to our office to share envelopes for raising funds for his church. As he got to one of the desks and shoved the envelope in my colleague’s direction. He shook his head and told him he didn’t want to give. Mr. J looked surprised and said ‘but it’s for church’. Femi smiled and asked him if he had stopped to ask him what his religious inclinations were or if his personal beliefs included funding church projects. He replied with “but you’re a Christian now. Why won’t you want to give to the work of God”. Femi looked like he was exasperated and was hanging to the last shred of patience in him; with a very calm voice and a straight face said “Thanks Mr. J. I’m not interested in giving. Please don’t leave the envelope on my table”
It was the beginning of a debate.
Why did Femi not want to give to Mr J’s church? Is he a pagan? Was he saying that he didn’t have 500 Naira to contribute to the work of the Vineyard? Did someone not see him ordering pizza from Debonairs the day before?
It went on and on with everyone having an opinion as to why Femi wasn’t giving to what was prima facie a good cause.
A lot of times, I find that human beings constantly need for you to justify your actions to them. This isn’t a completely irrational expectation – seeing as humans exist and interact in the same space. Therefore, sociologists would explain that it is only natural when this happens.
However, it made me think about the concept of charity and the many sides of it. In order for there to be a balance of existence, there will always be HAVES and HAVE NOTS in every facet of society and man would always want for something. One, therefore, wonders if there’s a strict rule which says the needs of the HAVE NOTS must strictly be met by the HAVES. I ask this because it gets to a point when charity no longer becomes a voluntary act, but one where one is expected to perform or risk being an outcast in the society.
I have often advocated for brightening the corner where you are, because I believe that my life should count for something positive. However, I don’t believe that this brightening should ALWAYS be monetary. I also don’t believe that charity is something within the exclusive purview of “rich people” because who defines what amounts to wealth anyway? Is it judged by the number of wrist watches I have or by the number of times Femi orders pizza in a month?
At what point does charity become a burden as opposed to an act of love? Is one supposed to justify causes one chooses to give to because of how one is perceived? Am I under any obligation to the association of widows in Ogbomosho just because I’m from there? Is it compulsory that Femi gives to any and every church program that he’s asked to… because he’s a Bible thumping Christian? What if I like to buy books for little primary school children? Does it matter that I haven’t given the displaced children of Benue flood and I choose to concentrate on the kids of Ewenla primary school near my house? What if Remilekun chooses to put a smile on battered Funmilola’s face by taking her to the movies instead of giving her 500k to rent a house? Does it make it less of an act of love?
Who determines what is actually charitable and what is not? Is there a script that charity must follow in order for it to be the Alpha Male of all charities?
What do you guys think? Let’s discuss!
Photo Credit: madamenoire.com