Tuesday, July 7, 2015

A Real Connection

Long peculating in my thought-sphere (aka my head), is the way secular people do charity. There's lots I can say about it, but I want to focus on one unfortunate aspect: the distance factor.

I was perturbed about a month or so ago by the pay-it-forward phenomenon when I was in the drive-through at Tim Horton's. "The people ahead of you paid for your order," the girl at the window informed me.

"Oh," I responded.

"Yea, it's been going on all day."

It took me a minute to realize that I was supposed to do the same for the people behind me. So my $3.00 order became like $3.80. "That's a weird kind of charity," I thought.

Now, I am not bothered by the fact that I had to pay a niceness tax of 80 cents. I am bothered that people think that this kind of thing makes the world a better place.
Poor. One of us.

When St. Francis and St. Martin of Tours gave their clothes to the poor beggars they did not give it to someone else to give to them. No, they did it themselves, dignifying those down-trodden human beings with actual human interaction. All this go-fund-me stuff is the same. Never having to make a connection and actually look someone in the face. I'm not against this stuff, I am simply saying that it's not enough and it can do you, the giver, more harm than it benefits you. Why? Because you might be convinced by these acts that you have fulfilled your duty to your neighbour. Paying your taxes can't do it; anonymous gifts that cost you nothing more than a handful of change (and no actual sacrifice of time) can't do it.

Cancer runs are great and all that. But their's way too much fanfare and self-congratulations to really fulfill your human obligation. And no time spent with those who suffer.

Let's look at another contrast between this secular ethic and the Christian. Let's look at the Clinton Foundation kind of charity and that performed by a great hero of mine, C. S. Lewis. 'Limousin liberals' are the worst instances of this phenomenon. Other than the fact that their 'generosity' is actually always demagoguery a la Julius Caesar's kind of generosity, the way these people go on and on about fairness and sharing and the poor and yet are themselves filthy rich is just disgusting.

C. S. Lewis was one of the best-selling authors ever. Books is one of the biggest industries in the world. Lewis could have lived an incredibly lavish lifestyle. He was right up there with Stephen King and J. K. Rowling. But he gave all of his author money away. Right away. Not when he died. As soon as he made it.  Nor did he give away a billion and keep 400 billion, like the great tycoon saints we are told to admire today, like Gates, etc. He made millions and kept hundreds. Literally. He lived exactly the same after he attained great fame as before.
C. S. Lewis' house.

Yes, I know, relative generosity is a complex thing. I would say that it has a lot to do, in the end, with the food you permit yourself to eat and the clothes you insist on wearing. St. Francis was convinced of that. So too was St. John Paul, from what I've been told. Some people have to live in New York, and to do that, you have to buy a condo for a few million dollars. I don't care about that stuff. I live in Barry's Bay, and I could buy a whole street for a few million dollars.

Pope Francis talks about smelling like the sheep. That's something we can all learn to do, not just priests. I would say that Jesus basically tells us to brag about the poor people we know personally. Doesn't he?
Stephen King's House

Don't talk to me about 'opening up the borders' when you don't even know any of the Mexicans who already live on your street.

In your car in the Tim Horton's drive-through is a very safe place to be. Everyone in the car with you just happens to be your kind of person. And thank God that the people whose double-double you just bought won't ever actually touch you or breath on you. And, by the way, if they are in the drive-through, chances are they are not poor, at least not poor enough to actually desperately need your $3.80.

1 comment:

  1. Great read. I couldn't agree more about the distance factor and about the notion of true charity: that is, a giving with felt personal sacrifice. On a side note: I've never experienced the 'pay-it-forward' phenomenon. I wonder what would happen if someone refused to pay in line and had their order payed for already. Perhaps it's a well disguised business strategy ;)