Do the right thing, just don't go on about it !
The London Marathon has just finished. One can only sit back in amazement as thousands of amateur runners stagger through the finish line. Many of those who finished will be reminding their work colleagues in days to come, "I did it for charity you know.". How can anyone NOT be impressed ? Well ask me and you'll get a resounding 'No.'.
I will admit that I do have an aversion to overactive, high achieving types simply because they often sneer at my bone idle, mediocre, uninspiring self (yawn). My reasons are deeper than that. When exactly did raising money for charity turn into such spectacle ? I remember the tale of the good Samaritan in the Christian bible, who looked after the guy who was robbed and beaten to a pulp. I can recall what he did, the fact that he asked for nothing in return, but I don't remember him ever being mentioned by name. What an ungrateful bastard that guy must have been eh ? Not so much as a gift token or bunch of flowers for saving some dude he didn't even know. No, Mr Samaritan just went on his way and told no one what he'd done and didn't even get a T shirt. Those details are absent because the writer wanted to focus on one aspect of that story - the act of charity and not who performed it. Acts of charity are important to many religions as well as the instruction that they be performed with humility, preferably anonymously. The reasoning behind this being recognising human need and suffering is taken as a given to anyone following such a creed. To intervene and aid someone is therefore not exceptional act and certainly it does not entitle you to inflict your tales of sugary goodness on everyone within earshot , mention it on your C.V. under interest/hobbies or post it on social media. Like Ossie Davis said in Spike Lee's film , "Always do the right thing." Lots of folks do exactly that every day in countless acts of unsung kindness around the world. If you want to look at how that translates in to cash see this example: "The most generous Americans of all? Those making less than $25,000. Amid the hard times of recent years, low-income Americans devoted 16.6 percent more of their meager incomes to charity.". Surprised ? No, it's not the multi-billionaire dropping $450 million in one go, nor is it a bunch of very rich pop stars telling us we can stop world poverty by simply buying a record. Why then do we think they are the big givers ? One word, publicity. Princess Diana was labelled 'The Queen of Hearts' for her charity work, and there was always the press there to record it. Strangely enough there was almost no reporting of how much she left in her will to charity (an estate then valued at £21 million). The answer simply is she left zilch, nothing, bupkis, bugger all to all those charities she loved so much. It was only revealed after he died that the TV celebrity Jeremy Beadle had quietly spent his spare time raising an estimated £100 million for charity. What we have here is a chronic imbalance of image over reality when it comes to acts of charity. Joe public just can't cut it unless he dresses up as an aircraft carrier and runs 26 miles and 385 yards leaking from every orifice, and even this is wearing a bit thin as far as media interest goes. More to their taste was in 2012 when a 30-year-old woman, Claire Squires, collapsed a mile from the finish and died of cardiac failure (induced by a drink supplement called Jack3d ). The news coverage meant her fund raising went from £500 to over £1 million for of all charities -The Samaritans. So you could say her tragic death did produce a lot of good and provide a fitting memorial. My take on it is she raised more money by dying than if she'd lived and finished the damn race, simply because it made a better story.
OK here's the punchline folks. Next year I shall attempt to raise more money than the average marathon runner (@ £2500) by dedicating the 20 weeks it takes to train for this by diligently doing NOTHING special. Yes that's right, absolutely sod all. What's more I am going to remain completely anonymous ! How exactly will I manage to pull this off then, eh ? Why by using things like this blog entry, social media and anything else I can attract to my cause and link it to a fund raising page. I shall go by the nom-de-guerre of LA-ZeeSod4charity. I intend to prove it's about the act, the need or cause and NOT about how good you're going to look doing it.
Hate me all you like, remember I'm doing it all for charity you know .