My family escaped to HK from China when I was 3 with just the shirts on our backs. HK then had practically no welfare system to speak of, the only handouts were the occasional packages of rice or noodle from some local church groups . Poor as we were my father would never let us queue for the
free food, he told us in no uncertain terms that the only food we deserve to have is the food earned by the sweat of our brows - we're not a charity case . This doctrine had stuck with me since .
As we grew we're taught to share what we have with those without , which beg the questions who then are the charity cases , and how should we give?
In Aug 2006 I joined The Mighty Rovers in collaboration with World Vision to build a schoolhouse for the Olkara Primary School in the Kajiado District
in Kenya .
The day we went to the school I was accosted and pulled about by a league of local women all clamouring in Marsa: give me, give me ! . They wanted
my hat, my sunglasses, my watch, my bracelet, my coat........if these ladies had their way I could be stripped naked on the spot , and that would be beyond funny !
The people in all the impoverished places I'd been to seem to think they have a right to anything the more prosperous has as a matter of course. The first English words the local children learn are : " Give me money ! "
What have we done to these people to make them think this way ?
On the last day some of the Rovers handed out candies, small toys etc to the children , a lot of the kids ( and some adults ) jostled and fought to get in the front of the line , then cheated by going back in the queue right after getting their share, pretending they're there for the first time.
What have we done to these people to make them behave this way ?
People who give always talk about how good giving makes them feel : they enjoy the smugness of playing the great benefactor ; how they appear to
themselves and others seem to be the whole of their consideration . Maybe it's time people consider also the effect giving has on the ones who receive
So what is good giving ?
A good gift should always hurt a little, we should give what we like and what we love, and not just what we can spare . We should give what we value and what we ourselves would like to receive .
It is my contention that giving casually and indiscriminately does harm on 2 scores. Firstly it makes beggars of those who receive and generates greed, secondly it diminishes the soul of the giver, for it gives them a false sense of superiority ; lest we forget Pride is one of the Original Sins .
Giving to the community is generally good as it almost always involves sharing , so one is done away with the ugly scene of neighbours and friends bickering over pittance , and the gift ( like the schoolhouse ) generally just provides the ground work for development which requires imput from the community for continuation . Donation should be allotted based also on the motivation of the community for self-help and not solely on the wretchedness score !
The best gift to an individual in my mind would be the gift of opportunities - the opportunity to grow and expand and utilize all of one's God given potentials .
The best giver treats the receipient as one's true equal , so the gift should aim at the building up of self-esteem, foster pride and preserve dignity . True good giving should be participatory, it should acknowledge and honour the efforts of those who receive . Just as Johnathen the local guide and thousands of others who benefited from this gift , we worked hard, made scholarship and achieved some success of our lives - we're not charity cases . Grateful but proud, we're anyone's true equal .
Giving is such a huge responsibility, maybe all of us should bestow more thoughts to it .