Charity or responsibility


I often struggled to get in terms with the word “Charity”. Charity to me sounds pitiful, derogatory in some cases.  Charity is often thought of as something that is done out of genorosity or out of sympathy. That’s what bothers me. Why should it be our generosity , it should simply be our responsibility.

It’s my responsibility, it’s your responsibility and it’s everybody’s responsibility to do whatever one can in one’s capacity to create opportunities for those who have not been so fortunate to get even the basic opportunities.

Just ask yourself.  Did you not ever approach the bank for a loan to buy a house, to buy an admission in a premiere education institute, to buy a vehichle ? I certainly did and the bank even obliged. But for many millions of people this opportunity doesn’t even exist. They could never imagine going to a bank. If you think about it, they are the one’s who really need the loans. Their life and death depends on this.

With a click of a mouse

  1. For just $33 , one can give the gift of vision to a blind : Sankara Eye Foundation .
  2. For just $25, one can change someone’s life forever: Kiva.
  3. For just $150, one can educate a child for the whole year: Uplift a child , Sphoorti.
  4. Aid India
  5. Cry

These are just a few organizatiions that i’ve been actively contributing to in the last 3-4 years. Imagine, if with just a click of a mouse , one can transform someone’s life forever, if we are also willing to contribute our time and some effort, how many more lifes we could transform.

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One thought on “Charity or responsibility

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  1. Suresh, I understand and respect your sentiments and your struggle with the literary, dharmic and moral semantics of the “concept” of charity itself.

    I somehow do not have any confusion as to the word, act or the concept and that is troubling to me personally because I may not be seeing / feeling something very obvious.

    Let me explain my position. I believe that there is a place in this world and in individuals for kindness, compassion and sensitivity all of which are pre-requisites for altruistic behavior. My definition of altruism is any action that I take that directly benefits (or prevents harm ) to other sentient beings (includes animals, people other than myself and my immediate family). The reasons that I would even consider doing these acts of altruism are generated by a base of “empathy” for the pain and suffering experienced by the “currently less fortunate” – less fortunate in health, peace (domestic violence for example), poverty, in opportunities, in being victims of crime and injustice etc – notice that poverty is only a small piece of it.

    And yes, “empathy” is putting myself in their shoes and feeling their pain and it is especially helpful if you ever experienced an equivalent pain in your own life earlier. The capacity for empathy is rare and I believe follows the bell curve. I always differed with you in the premise that EVERYONE is capable of and therefore should be generating the urge to share their possessions (time, effort and money). I think only a small percentage of the population is capable of generating the urge (my estimate is about 20% from bell curve analysis) and the rest dont give a damn. Empathy is certainly not a “learnt” behavior. You either have it or you don’t – similar to capacity to play marbles and ping pong, or sruthi gnyanam etc. Yes, it can be improved and refined if you have the base.

    So, in summary, charity is pity and sympathy for the suffering of others and other than politicians, only people with capacity for empathy can genuinely feel this pity and thus generate the urge to do something about it.

    I am glad when I am able to feel sorry for the injured – whether an accident victim, doemstic violence victim, destitute and poverty stricken families or victims of injustice (includes crime). I am glad that i feel so strongly that I have an overwhelming desire to do something. Up to now I chicken out most of time in doing something substantial and always postpone major actions to when I can afford to do them (time and money) and so I end giving a small token of kindness, a word or a little money. This part I am not proud of but then, I am probably a victim also of this foolish economic capitalistic global organization – But I hope that one day I will be able to beat the system and follow my heart.

    I don’t think charity is derogatory in any way and there are many times in my life that I was helped by charitable inclinations of total strangers and I have no way of paying them back.

    Should I be “Responsible” for all the hardship in the world and for anyone else other than my self and my family – absolutely not. I think I follow the natural law like a squirrel or a fish or a bird – being responsible only for itself and its family.

    Sorry to differ by 180 degrees but its just IMHO. Keep up your good work – Cheers – Subbarao

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