This Is Charity

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Mesut Ozil of the German World Cup Soccer team has donated his €300,000 (around $405,000) prize for winning the World Cup to pay for the surgeries of 23 Brazilian children – one for each member of Germany’s 23-man squad.

Now this is what I call charity, not shit like Amy Adams offering her (most probably free) first class seat on a plane to a veteran.

While table scraps like that are a nice gesture, offering your first class seat to a veteran is not anywhere near anything I would consider generous and charitable. It is kind of condescending actually and it sure as hell doesn’t really help a veteran.

Now if a person of modest means who paid good money for that seat had offered it  to the veteran, I would feel differently, but to see a multi-millionaire be only capable of giving a poor man a nice seat on a plane is just pathetic.

Amy Adams probably got that seat for free anyway and while quite nice, I want to point that nice is just about all it is because, that kind of shit doesn’t help people!!

Amy Adams has the wealth to do so much more and to truly reach out to that man and help him out yet all she can do is give him a seat. Thing is, that veteran doesn’t need a first class seat on a plane as much as he probably needs a decent paying job with a livable wage and benefits, as much as he needs financial security, as much as he needs access to quality and affordable health care etc.

While it may feel great that he can stretch out his legs for a few hours, a first class seat on a plane doesn’t pay his medical bills, it doesn’t pay for his psychological counseling – which he most likely needs after the trauma of war- ,  it doesn’t pay for his rent or put retirement money in his account. That kind of stuff is nothing but shameless self promotion trying to mask as charity in a country where people are so used to not seeing charity that the majority are thankful for such a gesture and think Amy Adams is the best ever.

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Amy Adams

But she is not. She just gave up her seat for a man on a plane, thus exhibiting basic human decency. When you give up your seat on a bus for a handicap person you are merely exhibiting the bare minimum of human decency, you don’t get accolades for that (and for all our intent and purposes, a millionaire giving up her first class seat on a plane to a veteran is the equivalent of a regular person giving up their seat on a bus).

My point is, if you have the means and you want to help people, try helping them in ways that matter – in ways that truly help them get back on their feet, in ways that lessen their burdens as they navigate life in poverty and destitution, such as helping pay for the medical treatment of children whose families do not have the means to pay for such a treatment.

Giving up a seat you got for free is not impressive and it sure as hell is not charity. Not to me as I expect more and set a higher bar.

But agreeing to pay a war veteran’s medical bills for a year from your bloated thespian salary, for example, that is charity. Or would have been charity, if Ms. Adams had actually offered it.

As  Jack London once wrote: “a bone to the dog is not charity. Charity is a bone shared with a dog, when you are just as hungry as a dog.”

There is so much wealth in this nation and collectively we could do so much better for everyone, if only we had the will. Instead, we deal with poverty, need and destitution by telling fairy tales about bootstraps and hard work, and how misfortune only happens to the lazy, the immoral, to people who deserve it etc.

Most people who have it very good, who are members of the one percent, rarely think about what it really takes to help others; they often lack the empathy needed to help create a society where we help out those less fortunate than us with something more than table scraps. They sit in their ivory towers, throw down scraps they got for free in the first place and call that charity. It is not.

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