A HEART TOO FAR – A LAMENT ABOUT CHARITY AND GIVING

July 20, 2008

 

This article wasn’t meant to be about charity. Somewhere between two lamp post, I had originally prepped myself to write about sex and the city. Hardly, had I stopped somewhere in Changi Village, I realized, I’ve got a flat. I am half hearted about fixing it; I prefer to sit here staring blankly at my Nokia Communicator; there is really no rush I tell myself. I have the whole afternoon.

 

We’ve just see where it goes. For the moment, I am just acutely aware of charity or shall I say how it has been under siege lately with the whole NKF debacle. And the sensation of curiosity why it should suddenly assume a poignancy – as I am one of those who usually doesn’t give willingly.

 

None the less as far as NKF goes and a bagful of forgettable good causes, I do make it a point to regularly make sure it comes out cleanly every month through giro. I remember comforting myself with the sobriquet thought – after all, the girl who persuaded me to sign on the dotted line after my free urine test did flash me her cleavage. She had a decent rack and its worth that much for remembrance sake.

 

 Yes I know I am bovine, terminally supine even about the whole idea of charity. I can’t even recount how many times I walked past absently mindedly by a kid holding out a tin can? Usually I just dig in for some loose shrapnel with a wan that expresses, “lets see what we have? Here take it. Besides its spoils the look of my expensive Italian slacks”

 

I have to perfectly honest with all of you; I am probably one of those who give for all the wrong reasons. It’s even conceivable my motivation for giving is wholly selfish and designed solely to slake my favorite hobby of self aggrandizing – yes alas, I am a legend in my own mind.

 

That also means I am probably one of those who can’t really put my finger on one specific reason why I give, but if I was pressed; it’s probably because I harbor the illicit thrill of being a sleeping partner in the whole process of saving people and planet. Like a lazy man’s way of playing the masked vigilante role like Spiderman or Zorro. Incidentally that could be one reason why I once bided for a vase in a charity event – you have no idea how I wanted to play with the fun bags of the host as a sleeping partner.

 

You see the act of giving empowers me vicariously to shape the destiny of the protagonist who could be a starving kid in Africa or someone who just needs a bit of help with his or her health; here the narrative goes something like this; Mom’s in jail; Dad left us when we were kids; life has not been fair to us. Somewhere between the heartache and the promise of redemption the act of giving neatly surmounts the inconvenience of really getting involved and engaged. Yet seemingly allowing us equity that manages to send a surge of sentimental warmth through the act of giving – charity is really an easy street.

 

Besides I can’t think of any more conceited; expecting a goody good org be it a church, temple or the mickey mouse club to bear the entire weight of our whole dysfunctional society – to help solve our contemporary problems – endemic poverty, denied opportunities and reclaiming innocence loss – seems to me perculiarly a delusion that only afflicts half hearted donors such as myself.

 

I guess what’s really delusional about this fairytale is it’s a very convenient way for us to insert ourselves as the knight in shinning armor who has managed to confront evil or sorrow and made it through the other side. Yeah, I know life is shitty, but this will hopefully make all the difference and what doesn’t kill you will definitely make you a stronger person.

 

To be specific when we give, we cease to be mere spectators. Instead we become almost one with the trials and tribulations of the main protagonist – the victim. Somewhere between signing off and realizing one can’t really afford to give that much – a subtle shift from depressive realism to tragic fantasia occurs – one moves from being immobilized by darkness to being sustained by the very hope that we can all make that defining difference to forge a better world. I know (you are telling me?) this may seem even a trifle comic, an indication not only of a highly inflated sense of how we see ourselves in relation to the world.

 

However, nonetheless it’s the necessary lie which makes the act of charity possible; the belief in the possibility of a cure. And it’s not unusual when we look through history only to see how through the ages; this has always been the psychology that appeals most to the powerless; the act of giving is a refuge against the omnipresent real; hope.

 

The WW II munitions shift worker who scrawls with chalk on a 500 kg bomb, “take that Adolf!” To the Christian who writes a cheque “to Jesus with love.” Doesn’t really matter if that bomb that’s supposed to drop squarely on the Reich Chancery stands an equal chance of blowing up a German orphanage to smithereens; or that in the divine order of how things should unfold; only the Moonies will ever make it to heaven, while the rest of us have to settle for languishing in the hottest place in hell.

 

My point is simply this; when the accounts are squared off in the charity game. At the end of the day; we the donor have to win (real or imagined); we need to feel good and walk away with the quiet assurance; without our intervention; the whole edifice will just come tumbling down – that’s the necessary lie that all charities have to leverage on; it’s ultimately about us; never about the kid who has to make do with cholera infected well water in some village in the heart of Darkness. Or whether what we give will not end up in some shopping mall instead of serving the greater kingdom of Christ.

 

We, the donor need to be able to pick off that one straw that will break the camels back; even if it’s closer to imagination than reality. This doesn’t deny us all the possibility of fashioning an alternate reality where we a have a general sense of history’s darkness, a mystical Dionysian conviction that the game ain’t over till the fat lady has sung the last song; doesn’t even matter if we elide the inconvenient details or fail to have enough of an Apollonian grasp of the details to appreciate its tragic consolations; we may never ever be able to make that all changing difference, it’s terminal, systematic and rotten right down to the fucking core!

 

I guess that’s why when we come across charlatans and hucksters who prey on our good will; we tend to take it personally. Well I do, at least. It’s an effrontery as it peels an unsavory chapter in the whole fairytale narrative of charity which we conveniently don’t wish to see; there is after all the ugliness of the commercial reality; man is terminally greedy, self serving

 

Even if he goes around in period attire complete with prayer beads and hemp slippers. Whenever this unsavory reality is thrown out into the public square; in the form of the fallen. All too often we rage at the betrayal of the illusions that we have all nurtured so astudiously about the whole idea of how charity is supposed to be able to seed the good and drive out the dystopian bad. That it has now being exposed as a “great lie” also disrobes our sensibilities rather unceremoniously as now we are compelled to assert that nothing is sacred anymore ( I wonder was it ever?) and what we once presumed to have been truer, less venal, less hostile to the noble enterprise of giving has all been proven to be dominated only by self serving commerce and greed.

 

At the heart of my despair about charity what’s emerging for me is the conflict that I may no longer be able to make that difference as long as those glib tongued money grabbing motherfuckers continue to reside within the machinery of charity. How can I not feel estranged? I was a giver, but despite the odds.

 

I will still give only because there is no other way for one to escape the crushing imperative to engage explicitly with all the forces which threatens to make this world a fucked up place. Only I will have no illusions in the future; like things that simply go bump in the night or why most of us have learnt to go through life with duct tape, rubberbands and superglue. I am acutely aware; the system will fail at times and I have to be able to ignore those far and few rotten apples and continue to take the big sweep; that there is after all a better world out there somewhere and there are actually real people  who are sincerely working towards that dreamy goal; this is the part that I will always wish to see, even if it’s a lie, a sobriquet lie; a necessary one that makes it possible for me to belong to the world that is ending then as it is now and I am glad to be belong to it all – I am Darkness 2008

 

“I want to believe. You have no idea how much I want to believe!”

 

Agent Molder – The X files.  

 

[This relatively unknown article was once written by Darkness and posted in the PBK – it was more or less lost in a thread commentary and it has been reconstituted by the FILB – The Brotherhood Press – 2008 / What is interesting about this article is it captures succinctly many of the sentiments which were once experienced during the height of the NKF debacle some 3 years ago. Today as we mull over the Ren Ci affair and consider the “misdeeds” which may have or may not have occurred – many of the sentiments once expressed by Darkness are still relevant and they shine a light into how many of us would come to see the whole idea of charity and the act of giving. What I especially like about this piece is whilst the author does display considerable skepticism in his views concerning charity and the relevance of giving in this day and age. He states quite plainly it remains the only way. I find this message brutally truthful as based on my understanding it was written in just a span of 15 minutes in response to a query by a PBK reader on the question of the morality of giving i.e why do we really give. At the end the author suggest not only that we should continue giving, but that without it, we will be poorer for it, if tragic reality prevails over our capacity to hope. Although the author doesn’t mention it specifically. Presumably he is commenting about life without the prospects of hope and this is the part that I feel neatly wraps up his lament with a message that to live in hope is better than to live without it. Even if it requires a bit of self deception – Y2K – I hope some of you enjoy this approach, where I have begun to comment directly on some the brotherhood press write up’s. I wish to inform you all, the FILB has been joined by an additional team of 8 volunteers and even as we speak, we are beginning to uncover a treasure trove of material which was previously never made public by the brotherhood press – my hope is to bring to you all these reads in keeping with the developments of what’s happening around us – The Brotherhood Press 2008]

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