This morning while thinking aloud, just like that a stray thought entered my mind. It has to do with each one of us; we all want to be altruistic, we all in some way or the other wish to do some sort of charity or social service and all of us always lack time for that. Charity is often the most neglected task of our lives. Today, I was thinking about what exactly do we mean by charity?
The dictionary defines it as “generous actions or donations to aid the poor, ill, or helpless: to devote one's life to charity.” But let’s go a little deeper; is it only about giving a currency note to some NGO or is it taking pains to provide relief to a needy? Since the world is not same, each individual holds a different viewpoint on what exactly charity means. Some even consider the entire concept of charity a crap.
Ask a busy executive, for him charity is donating a yearly cheque to some well known NGO; for a businessman charity may be a good means to get tax rebates, while youngsters, mostly students, are confused about where should they start off as they wish to do a lot but their plans are hazy and ambiguous most of the times. I know some people who visit orphanages and NGOs to volunteer their money or services but they also make sure that it’s well known to people that X goes there every Sunday to do this service or that. Is charity a mode to be perceived as a local celebrity?
Some people although perform social services but behave exactly the opposite with people they hold power over like old family members, servants, pets etc. The old customs of doing charity like it used to be depicted in films has worn out. Now for most people, specially busy urbanites, it means simply donating money since it’s easy and saves their precious time.
But I view it differently. I feel the real charity is done when you take pains to provide relief to someone else in some way. Big or small doesn’t matter, but without expecting any returns including recognition from acquaintances, otherwise it would be akin to a business investment or a bond you expect to encash at an opportune moment in future! If you stand in a long queue to get a ticket reserved or pay the bill for an old citizen, that’s real charity.
I feel charity has nothing to do with money, whether you can donate it or not. What really matters is whether you are willing to make an extra effort to help someone you do not know. It may not be done only in an NGO; the basic attitude of charity can be and should be inculcated in daily life too, for example giving a piece of left over food to a stray canine is a kind of charity too :)