15 September 2010

Why Do We Give?

A conversation on the radio recently included the ranting of a woman who wanted to donate canned goods to the Pakistan Relief efforts. The goods had not been as eagerly received as she thought they should have been and she was offended.

She just wanted to help.

As generous as her heart may have been, her gift was very probably not appropriate to the need.

How exactly do we get those cans to the needy people of flood ravaged Pakistan? Will they have a can opener, pot or spoon with which to open, heat or eat the contents?

Many accounts have been opened for those affected by the Christchurch earthquake. A local Christchurch businessman questions the need, saying that Christchurch has what it needs and must just now get on with the rebuilding.

The National Business Review wrote about the Christchurch man going to his building and beginning the repair work himself. He sounds a bit of a renegade in that he went in without City Council clearance and could have endangered himself or started a domino effect that could have injured others, but he has the Canterbury can-do attitude.

His blog lists all the reasons why Canterbury citizens can take care of themselves, giving credit to an excellent Civil Defense, the EarthQuake Commission and corporate donations. He then points people to donate to relief for those in Haiti and Pakistan where there was devastation and great loss of life.

Why do people think they need to give money to those who have suffered from this earthquake and the hundreds of aftershocks that have shaken them to the core?

Is it because we are frustrated as we watch or listen to the news reports from the comfort of our "stable" homes or cars? Is it because we have warm and clean clothes on and can have a hot cup of tea or a cold drink whenever we want? Is it because our pictures are still on the walls and our toilets flush?

I'm not suggesting guilt as such. I didn't cause the earthquakes or the floods or the fires.

Maybe I'm suggesting gratitude. Maybe it is in the midst of comparing what they've lost and what I still have that I see disparity and want to level the field a bit?

Why do we give?

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