Number 2 of my 7 Long Takes.
Charity and Giving.
I want to help others, really I do. It’s part of being a good Catholic and a good person. But I get overwhelmed by it. There are soooo many who are in need of food, clothes, shelter, education, money for this and that. I see it all and all I can do is shut the door and stuff all the charity mailings away and hope maybe it’ll all go away on its own.
But it won’t. The poor will always be here.
So my cynical self can’t help thinking – What’s the point? Why even bother helping if poverty will always be here? People will continue making bad choices that will steer them down a hard and impoverished life. Who am I to think I could stop that?
And then there’s the problem of Trust. How do you know they aren’t just taking advantage of me or that they won’t take your money and drink it all away at the nearest liquor store or for their next fix?
I once read a horrible story that I haven’t been able to stop thinking about. You know those beggar women who sit with the babies waiting for people to walk by and drop a few coins in the jar next to her? Most people, who have any amount of kindness in their hearts, would be moved by pity for this poor woman and her baby. They’d drop a few coins in and walk off smiling about how they just helped a mother and her child.
But what if this woman was part of a large organized crime group? What if the leader of the gang collected all her money at the end of the day, sparing a few pennies and a piece of moldy bread for the woman, and keeping the rest for himself and his elaborate house and shiny car?
And what if the baby stayed still all day, not because he was sleeping, but because he’d been drugged with heroin to stay still and quiet? And even if the baby died (which many do), the woman had to stay there all day holding the baby until she’d “worked” her whole shift?
This is a true story. I’m not making it up. I wish I were and couldn’t believe it when I first read it. It’s like a different kind of prostitution.
So what do you do about things like this? The author of the article I’d read about this from suggested we stop giving to these beggars all together. Because we weren’t really helping them. We were only making ourselves feel good about trying to help someone. But the money actually goes to the criminals.
I suppose this is why it’s best to give to large charity organizations who have policies and standards in play so they can give to people who are legit. But even then, there are stories of mass corruption that make me want to throw my hands up in the air.
It’s things like that one example and so many other corruption stores I’ve heard that make me hold my money tighter. And I don’t think this is right. But I also don’t think it’s right to hand out my money to just anyone either.
We have an opportunity to make a big difference in a new friend’s life and for her family but we are hesitant because of these trust issues. Maybe I should just give without thinking so much and let God sort out how it gets used?
How you do navigate charity and corruption and trust?