I’ve told you before what I don’t like about charity. Knowing how I feel about handouts, you understand that hearing the phrase, ‘give to the less fortunate’ all holiday season long, irks me. There is so much packed into that expression that feels condescending and stagnant. It implies that there is one group of people that ‘needs’ things, and another group of people that ‘has’ things. Judging one’s fortune isn’t productive at all; it only leads to guilt and shame.
Every single one of us has needs and every single one of us has gifts. Our gifts are our talents, passions, skills, money or time. Needs include all the physical necessities of being safe and cared for. But there is one need that is just as great as those – and that is dignity.
So, if we all have needs and we all have gifts, then instead of a linear division between the ‘haves’ and have-not’s, we are in a circular relationship where everything each of us does and thinks and feels affects the rest of the community. With that in mind, when we have something to give, we can do it knowing that the person on the receiving end is a valuable, contributing member of society who may very well one day be serving us through their gifts. There’s humility in that, and hope, and most importantly, there’s dignity.
Imagine if every time we look at a fellow human being we see his or her potential, ability…amazingness – no matter where or how they live. Imagine if we were in the business of ensuring that everyone has the opportunity to develop their gifts and talents.
There is an organization I know whose mandate is just that: Boys and Girls Club of South Coast of B.C. (BGC). Their job description is to be the champion of kids, knowing and believing that every kid is amazing. The end products of their business are human beings who have the opportunity to shine like the great kids they are.
[Tweet “When a kid’s amazingness is hard to see, it is because of their circumstances ~ @helpbgc”]
That paradigm that governs their organization allows room for growth, for both the families who are involved with BGC, and for our community at large. These children who are really being seen and heard for the unique individuals they are, aren’t the recipients of a handout – they are the future leaders we choose to invest in. Our return is a healthier, safer, stronger community. That makes sense logically, but also feels like a sigh of relief. That paradigm obliterates the negative by-products of a linear relationship.
I’m not saying we should think of charitable giving as a simple business transaction, devoid of feeling. That would be impossible and unacceptable since we are talking about human outcomes. But let’s replace guilt, shame, and pity with hopefulness, compassion and pride. Everybody in this circular relationship should feel these things when a ‘transaction’ is made.
For example, when a Christmas hamper is delivered to a BGC family with extraordinary needs, it is delivered by the staff member who already has an established relationship of trust with the family. It’s that touch of humanity that takes an act of giving and makes it an act of giving with dignity. For those of us who don’t have a direct relationship with the people involved in this organization, or any other non-profit, we can still give with dignity by doing it with the knowledge that we are just one part of the equation, doing what we can to make space for others to contribute to society as well.
[Tweet “Give with dignity, knowing the recipient is capable of bettering your world, too.”]
We are all in this business of human outcomes. We are all participating in this circle of giving and receiving, each of us with our unique needs and gifts. Looking at it this way, we add ‘dignity’ into the mix: a need we all share.
For more information on Boys and Girls Club of South Coast of B.C., please visit their website at www.bgcbc.ca
P.S. Don’t miss out on your chance to win $80 to donate to your favourite Canadian charity before Fri Dec. 19 at midnight PST- enter HERE!
Disclosure: This is a sponsored post. However, the opinions expressed within are entirely my own.