Perspectives on giving

The study of morals is not always about the big questions; it’s not always about what I need to do, but rather who I want to become, and how my every day actions are shaped by this direction.

Struggles that I/we have with giving, reasons not to give to the poor:

  1. They deserve to be poor

    With the culture of meritocracy, we see the poor no longer as unfortunates, but rather deserving of their own fate. They didn’t work hard enough, they didn’t study enough. They deserve their position. I have no obligation to give them anything.

  2. Giving is fruitless, not the most effective way of helping people

    I don’t know who else thinks this way. Sometimes I feel like I’m asked to constantly give and I’m quite lazy to give. Not that I’m heartless, but giving takes effort. Sometimes, giving feels like I’m being cheated: I’ve written about embezzlement, misuse of funds by corporations, wastage etc. But also that I constantly give and nothing big seems to be changing. The poor are always going to be around; not giving once wouldn’t hurt anyone, I can give another time.

We’re also told that we should not give money mindlessly. The better way of helping people is to ‘empower them’; give them money so that they can invest/start companies/be entrepreneurs, getting themselves out of poverty forever. It’s almost like we’ve become calculative with our giving, a little cold, without sincerity. We give and expect to see results, multiplications, spectacular changes. We don’t give because it’s good, we give because we want them to get out of poverty and pester us no longer.

These are thoughts that we all have, we are all aware of them, we know that there are flaws in these mind sets, but it’s so hard to break out of them. Meritocracy is flawed: it’s a nice label, we’re more equal than we are before, but in reality it’s impossible for a society to be completely meritocratic – there is imperfect information, too many factors to control. Simple things like the variations in pay not being completely proportional to how much work you do, the gender pay gap, stuff like that. We know that people don’t always deserve to be poor, there are many reasons why people end up in the situations that they find themselves in.

We know, but more often than not we are more critical than kind.

We feel unhappy that people are pestering us to always give. Haven’t I just given? Haven’t I given enough? I give ___% of my income already. But we don’t see how much we are left with, and that we still can give more. We look to the richest people in the world – they have so much more than us, why can’t they give more? In truth, the percentages of their wealth that they have already given away is more than the percentage we have given. Isn’t it ‘equality’ that we should be giving more?

We think that we need to strategically give, to get people out of their problems forever (also so that they would stop bothering us). In truth, some people are bound to be dependent, for life. We need to realise that that’s a reality. For whatever reason that they may be (I don’t want to name a group, because it can feel disempowering for them lol or perhaps that my assumptions may not hold true, but I’m thinking about people like the destitute elderly who no one will hire, or people with mental disabilities who although they may get paid, they perhaps will always need help in certain areas?)

We can always afford to give more. Let us think less about where to give, how much we (should) give, who to give to, etc. Don’t try to control where the money goes – even in the most ideal situation, things may not work out. We may give to places where the money ‘is guaranteed to grow’, there is no such thing as definite guarantees, we cannot control perfectly. Let us not be burdened with all these decisions such that we fail to give. Trust in a divine force that would direct funds where it is best utilised.

‘It is not our intention that others may be relieved while you are burdened, but that there may be equality. At the present time, your surplus will meet their need, so that in turn their surplus will meet your need. Then there will be equality. As it is written “he who gathered much had no excess, and he who gathered little had no shortfall.”’