The English word "charity" comes from the Latin word for "love."

Indeed, the word charity is an archaic word for love even in the English language.  One can see the obvious connection between the older usage of the word and its present use.  If we love people, we will help them when they need it.

So lets think a little about the word charity, and the practice of charity.

We usually offer to give charity to people because we can see an obvious problem, and we are moved to action by some internal motivation.  That internal motivation could be compassion, it could be guilt, it could be duty, it could be shame, it could be any number of things...

...but we are motivated by something inside of us.

So far, so good.

It is at this point that the problem arises, we must chose what we are going to do to respond to this internal motivation.  The common response is to simply give a few dollars to a person in need.  This is the most basic form of charity.  To give money.

Why do we give money?

We don't have time to ask about this person's situation, we don't really desire to get to know them, or let them get to know us.  When confronted with a situation where someone is in obvious need of help, we give money, precisely so we don't have to get more involved!  We don't have the interest in learning what this person really needs, discerning what would really help.  In short, we don't care about helping them, we care about the way we feel...

Why do we give money?

Because it is the simplest way to address that feeling inside of us!

The irony is, we are giving money, precisely so that we don't have to love someone, and then we call it charity.

No comments: