Charity, snot, and keeping the kids’ noses clean: why keeping out of trouble isn’t quite good enough

I aim to keep all the noses in this house clean – literally and figuratively. But I’ve been wondering lately, should I be doing more?

Can I say I am a good person, just because I no longer do things that are particularly bad?  By being passive – keeping our noses out – in life threatening, dangerous or just plain uncomfortable situations are we contributing to the absence of good, and letting evil in?

Clearly it’s wrong to assault your spouse. But not as wrong to not intervene if you see a domestic violence incident. And clearly it’s wrong to rob someone. But not trying to prevent that robbery? That get’s a bit more blurred. Obviously I would not take the food from your child’s plate. But to what extent am I obliged – and do I want to –  to get involved with giving so that no child goes hungry?

To be honest, when it comes to the giving,  I’ve been a bit lax on that for most of my life. 

I spent my days in formal education desperate to change the world. Then, I walked into a job in the Financial Services industry.  I kept walking, this time around town on my lunch break. Strapped for cash in those early years, but still eager to make a difference, I signed a couple of forms waved in my face by so-called Chuggers. I’d donate a few pounds a month to a charity, only to find out years later that barely a few pence made it to the people in actual need.

While at work, sponsorship forms landed on my desk thick and fast. At first (and oddly at the time when I had the least money) I was eager to help out. In the end, I became inundated with sponsorship requests from people who seemed to be finding a profile raising way to climb Mount Kilimanjaro.

The cherry on my ‘excuses for doing very little’ cake was finding out that Public schools are charities.

Is my lax attitude to giving the one that I want my kids to have? No. So I’ve made a few changes.

I’ve started to help out with projects  in the area I live in, giving time rather than money. I can’t help everyone, but that shouldn’t stop me getting involved with something. I tend to volunteer for things that I have a vested interest in, such as education – while I once ridiculed the Kilimanjaro climbers for doing the very same thing, I think now that they were right to fulfil their dreams and help others.  

The internet makes donating money, and sharing the various appeals for cash and time, so easy. Actually, while I am here with access to anyone in the world who is on the internet, I can take this opportunity to promote causes I come across, like  Team Honk, a group of bloggers raising money for Comic Relief. If you like what you see, then you can sponsor Team Honk here. That was so easy to do!

And finally, I’m picking one cause a year and doing what  I can to support that.

So, it’s a start. I’ve got a few more ideas up my sleeve that I am to put into action, rather than just think about. In the meantime I’m off to find more tissues and to lead those kids by the nose down a more charitable path than the one that their mother has trodden.

What’s your approach to charity? Let me know!


6 thoughts on “Charity, snot, and keeping the kids’ noses clean: why keeping out of trouble isn’t quite good enough

  1. Clare Flourish says:

    You’re the philosopher…

    Of course killing someone is worse than letting someone die. Killing, you are responsible. The Trolley problem is only interesting because we want to save others. Our tribal species wants to benefit the tribe.

    My church gives money, but has recently become involved in actual good work: many of us volunteer at the homelessness charity and food bank, and we use part of our premises to house a previously homeless family.

    First you are responsible for yourself and your family, but then you try to do Good. Hooray! Then you find that doing good is not as easy or uncomplicated as you hoped. And you still try.


    • Abby Boid says:

      Hi Clare
      I first came across this ‘problem’ in a seminar that was at a 9am on a Friday morning, after a Thursday night where a local nightclub ran a 50pence a shot promo. To say I rolled my eyes when it was put to us was an understatement. However, I still like it as a prompt to get into murkier areas such as euthanasia. Well, murkier to me – I guess many people are really clear on where they stand.
      And you are very right on the doing good thing. I’ve become much more involved in my local community since a job that involved a lot of commuting ended. Because I am around, situations crop up where you get involved, sort it out, and hey presto – I am not such a bad person after all.
      Thanks for your comment. Got to dash now – got a sinking boat, some dogs, and a few people – I need to work out who to rescue.


  2. Abby Boid says:

    I read this when I was tired. I thought you wrote that you wanted to sausage the guilt. Guilt filled sausages – now there’s a possible title for a post!
    PS – shareholders in need – the 21st century charity – get shopping.


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