Recently I read the magazine of a charity/social work/volunteer organization in Singapore. There were interviews with local celebrity stars about social work. There were also pictures and articles about a charity ball event they organized. This is of course one of those big glammer events when you get local celebrities and directors and managers from big companies who support your charity organization to come and give speeches and receive thanks from the organization for their support.
Because this was a big and important event, people came dressed up. Expensive dinners were served. And everyone would have had a great time – all in the name of raising money for charity.
I question the logic of such thinking and traditions.
We involve ourselves in charity and social/volunteer work to help the poor and unfortunate, right?
These charity organizations are supposed to wage a war on poverty, on suffering, on want. What they stand for is opposite to what the world’s values are. The world upholds materialism, consumerism, wealth. Poverty occurs because of great materialism in the world. Poverty, suffering, want – these are the opposite of glamour, fame and riches.
If so, I question how we can use an event like a charity ball that glories in displays of glamour, fame and riches and use it in service of helping those who are poor, suffering and in want!
Why not just live the life that charity organizations so preach?
Why do we need to enlist the services of stars and celebrities for such events? Why do we give them more attention than others? If anybody needs attention, it is the poor and suffering.
Let’s get down to the dirty work of helping the poor. Let’s not dwell on events that waste money rather than use it in a productive way. Let our actions do the talking. It speaks louder than words.
Mahatma Gandhi was one person who eventually lived the life. He was brought up in a rich family. He was a lawyer by vocation early on in his life. Though he lived in the higher caste of society, he used his fame and riches and authority to help the poor. Early on in life, he lived among the rich, but served the poor.
That’s like what happens when we get rich managers and directors and celebrities together to celebrate their helping the poor in a charity ball. It’s like a rich and famous men’s club/gathering – but for the so called noble purpose of helping the poor.
The interesting thing about Gandhi is that he eventually forsook his status and wealth and his high aristocratic lifestyle to be one with the poorer people in India’s society – the “untouchables.”
He couldn’t continue on his rich lifestyle – even if it was done in service to the poor. He knew that to help the poor, he had to be among the poor. He had to live a poor lifestyle. And he did just that.
What an inspiration. He knew what it took to truly help the poor – that is, be one with the poor in every way…