I am not a fan of charity and fundraising. Not in RL and even less in SL. Not because I am greedy or have no empathy with people who need care and money, but because I don’t believe in charity being an effective and honest way to do good. It’s merely an eraser of guilt.
For me charity feels like buying a plane ticket with CO2 tax to compensate for the pollution. Such compensations create a false belief to be a good and responsible person. It creates 2 false effects actually:
- The user of a plane feels less bad because paying for the sins of pollution
- The company looks like an environmental benefactor instead of environmental destroyer.
Money is a weird thing in all of this. It seems to have mythical powers to invade a human mind with all kinds of outcome:
- Money gives status
- Money gives power
- Money makes happy (yes ppl still believe it secretly)
- Money opens doors to all and everyone
- Money takes away your guilt when used for charity
- Money corrupts principles that used to be firm when there was no money
Charity versus Change
And so on and so on. The guilt factor, the magic disappearance of it when doing charity, is a bit sad. Maybe even more sad because it never lasts. Thats why this money giving act needs to be repeated endlessly to keep the guilt at an acceptable level. This immediately indicates why charity is not effective. Charity only masks the real problems that exist in a more substantial way. Economic/financial systems ruling the world without concern for sharing and caring, only interested in personal benefits. Charity is the baby born from greed. That baby means well when it says to want to do different than its parents, but also contributes to keep that system active and strong. It would be much better to put effort in CHANGE than in CHARITY. Then charity would die. Sorry for the charity babies, but hurray for the billions of rescued babies.
Of course I know very well it is hard to resist all charity. And of course I sometimes also donate to whatever cause. But I note it does not take away my guilt at all, less and less even, because it’s too clear that charity is not a healer, more a dealer of Mother Theresa drugs. Besides being not effective and a poor guilt cleaner, charity also is not fair. To benefit from charity only is based on being the focus of someone, being at the right place, where camera’s are, where friends organize your illness payment and where likewise situations elsewhere are totally ignored. It’s luck or bad luck basically. Like a roulette.
Protection from guilt
Despite all these critics I am not preaching to not and nevermore do charity. That’s a bit harsh and at least some people are helped in this way. But I also will not say YAAAYYY when it knocks at my door. I more likely will feel bad to not have helped others and only this person or group. Helping people makes happy in general, but not when you know the help only stops the bleeding for a few. The next day we protect ourselves and look away when we see another and another and another needing help in the same way. In a failing system we cannot help everyone, that’s the nasty thing that makes us close our eyes at times, to not be consumed by guilt.
Profit from charity
And as for charity in SL. It’s no charity for me when sellers only share a certain percentage and not the full 1oo% to what they claim to support. Charity to me means no personal financial benefit at all. As long as someone gains personal profit in a charity event, the whole thing smells. The smell of wanting to be seen as a good person but not for free. Charity has its price apparently . . .
First as tragedy, then as farce, Slavoj Zizek
I like to end with this brilliant video in which philosopher Slavoj Zizek investigates the surprising ethical implications of charitable giving.