Help How you can

H

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking, recently. And no, it didn’t hurt. Anyway, I have been thinking a lot about help and helping others and yourself. This post could potentially be a bit preachy. It isn’t my intention, it’s more a ramble on my part with a loose moral conclusion. TL;DR: Help how you can.

Context

This story begins last week, on a Monday in January. I had some free gloves that I got from my placement. While a pair of gloves is nice, I don’t wear gloves. I finish my placement around 4:30pm, and it’s getting dark, and right by the college, I see two rough sleepers outside a nearby Nando’s restaurant. So, rather than me keeping gloves I don’t really need, I gave them to one of the rough sleepers.

I never give money to rough sleepers or beggars on the streets. And I don’t want to tar all homeless people with the same brush. People end up on the streets for many reasons. While I could have given those people a couple of pounds to buy a coffee or something, what does giving money actually do? It’s going to be spent on some form of immediate gratification, like food or drink, or potentially drugs, to serve someone’s lesser needs.

Give what you can

Funding beggers does not help people get off of the streets, and a lot of the old ways of encouraging giving money to charity are not working anymore. For example, Comic Relief and Red Nose Day. As a younger person, I enjoyed Red Nose Day, but as I grow older, and the charity does its thing every year via Sports Relief and Comic Relief, it’s less about giving, and more about getting.

You get a shirt, you buy a cake, or a red nose, or a plush teddy bear of some sort. Consequently, your relationship with charity becomes less about help, and more about taking for yourself, in the knowledge of a notion of good deeds. That isn’t charity.

Above all, the mentality of ‘give what you can’ is more a duty. That is to say, a moral obligation to do good rather than to do good of your own volition.

Help how you can

The whole idea of ‘help how you can’ is meant to turn the act of charity from an obligation and a duty, into being kind in whatever way you can be kind. That means to give what you can and to help in other ways. Even if you just give your old clothes, DVD’s, or toys to a charity shop, or you give money to someone or provide gloves to a homeless person. Help how you can. Do not be mandated to help by a sense of duty. It will make you a bitter and resentful person.

In conclusion, don’t be a cynical helper who helps out of duty. Do what you can to help in your own way.

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Ben

Since 2012, Benjamin Attwood has written for the If you Ask Ben blog.

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