As Martin Luther King Jr. saw it, to those living on the margins of our communities, acts of charity and compassion should be our very first response to meet the need. But then there is the next stage. What caused it? Who is responsible? How can we change things at their source so that acts of charity are not as required as those where we help those who begin to find their footing?
The Trudeau government seemingly called off the CRA from harassing Canada's charities on January 20. Well, not really, in fact. The Trudeau government's timidity so far in fixing this abuse of power by the previous government will probably result in some of Canada's most popular and important charities heading toward decertification and oblivion.
Without money, it would be nearly impossible for food banks to provide clients with a healthy dinner plate. That's because essentials like pasta, soup and beans pour in, while equally important items like fresh produce, meat and dairy items are in shorter supply. Financial donations create flexibility.
It's just a small, white envelope stuck among the branches of our Christmas tree. No name, no identification, no inscription. It has peeked through the branches of our tree for the past ten years or so. It all began because my husband Mike hated Christmas -- oh, not the true meaning of Christmas, but the commercial aspects of it -- overspending...Knowing he felt this way, I decided one year to bypass the usual shirts, sweaters, ties and so forth. I reached for something special just for Mike. The inspiration came in an unusual way.
When was the exact moment that Christmas became synonymous with buying stuff I do not know, but it seems that we've reached a point of gifting no-return. The idea of simply spending Christmas with your family without the obligatory spending and consumption is not even a possibility. If you're an average person living in a Western nation you can be pretty confident that your intended gift-receiver already has everything he or she needs and most likely lives a year where their other superfluous wants are often met.
There is much commonality between religions in urging us to overcome our attachments to money, property and the material, to give generously of ourselves in as many ways as possible, and to realize that nothing is ours. In many ways, it's a call to overcome our selfish nature and to realize our deep interconnectedness with each other and all of creation.
For every tragic incident in the world today, there are countless more women and men humanitarians -- changemakers -- making the world a better place in their own respective capacities. Light is more potent and powerful in effacing darkness; let's each of us resolve to spread more light around us, in our communities, and throughout our world.
In the last few years, crowdfunding has become a huge force to raise money for a variety of causes globally. Crowdfunding, embraced particularly by younger generations, appears to have an influential future as a fundraising strategy for millennials, who have grown up in the peer-to-peer vs. top-down influence framework.
Instead of asking our parents to change, why don't we change the situation that caused our parents to change -- poverty? Poverty in Sri Lanka has left many children on the streets scavenging for food, or should we say crumbs. What if I told you for $20 you can buy change -- change in the form of a future.
Granted that Zuckerberg and other wealthy individuals do such public and private acts and structure their affairs to their advantage, my point is that most people will do the same and nobody does anything without expecting something in return, be it material benefits, fame, feeling good about oneself, reward in the afterlife, or other tangible and intangible benefits.
Unfortunately, it remains part of Canada's culture of philanthropy to think charities should spend all their money directly on programs and that "administrative" spending is wrong and should be discouraged. There's a double standard, with different expectations of businesses than of charities when it comes to investing internally.