Thursday, September 10, 2009
Money and Charity
I was scrolling through old documents looking for something else (which I have yet to find...grrr) when I ran across something I'd written for a forum post three years ago. The discussion was about money and charity and the question was put out if anyone really thought there was a case where throwing money at a situation actually helped? Specifically, a global situation.
The following is what I wrote. I'm not sure I actually posted it or not. I often write things and then don't post them. But since I've heard so much discussion about "lack" these days, I thought I might put this here.
It's got me thinking.
I suppose it depends on what the expectations are. If $ are thrown at a situation with the expectations of creating something to agree with a specific set of expectations...then, I'd so no, it never works. But if $ are given with the intent and expectation that they will flow where they are needed, then, yes, it does work.
What outcome is expected? That every dollar will be spent in a specific manner? Wisely and creatively in the manner the giver expects?
Money is funny stuff. It circulates, you see. It doesn't just buy something and then, that's it. It moves on. Sometimes it is spent foolishly or dangerously. Sometimes gambled away. Sometimes it sits in an account (or behind a radiator wrapped in plastic bags and a shoebox in my mother-in-law's case) for a long period of time and seemingly produces nothing. Most often it is wielded as power for control of others.
Now think of love. You could apply all the above also to love, couldn't you? Does love ever end? Do we ever see the final outcome of love?
The Second Law of Thermodynamics tells us that energy spontaneously disperses from being localized to becoming spread out if it is not hindered from doing so. And even if it is hindered what happens? Nothing? Poof! – energy gone? Nope, it changes to something else and moves on.
Okay, Betty…get real here, we’re talking about money. Money! You see that’s the thing….our perception of what money is and how that results in those expectations. I’ve had to look loooooong and hard at this. Money…both having and not having it…has been one of my greatest fears. Thing is…one never HAS it. You can’t. It comes and goes. It circulates. It flows. It disperses, gets hindered, and goes off in another direction. So, actually, we’re wrangling energy and trying to direct it in the directions we perceive as having the best outcome. We can do our best to direct it wisely and creatively with the understanding that it is temporary and must flow on.
It’s akin to herding cats. You do your best, but you can count on a mighty small percentage making it where you want em to go. Some folks will be better at it than others, but since one knows the nature of cats, I wouldn’t give up my day job to become a cat herder. They are independent little cusses and you’re likely to come away covered in scratches and the ones you have penned are often creative enough to find another way out anyway.
And one also knows the nature of humans and their current perceptions of money (money=power?) and charity. Charity once upon a time meant “love of humankind.” Hmmmm. What does that tell you about that perception? Somewhere along the line it changed, didn’t it? Maybe it got hindered by the money=power perception?
So, should we just give up giving to charities? Walk past the guy with his hand out because he looks disreputable and will likely spend it on booze or drugs or cigarettes, or maybe he’s really got an old beater around the corner or a watch on his wrist that he could sell and why should you give him anything if he has that? That cat obviously isn’t going to go where you want it to.
Or is this charity going to spend their money in a proper manner? One can do their research, but there is always doubt about exactly where that hard-earned money is going to go. Another cat going astray.
What’s the perception? What’s the intent?
Now if one’s perception of charity truly is a love of mankind, then intent will be followed by action. And most often that particular perception is not followed by the intent of “throwing money” at a situation. It will be followed by involvement in some manner. Volunteerism, advocacy, service, etc.
However! Money finds its way. Perhaps a percentage of that money makes its way to someone who truly needs it at the moment and then it moves on…someplace else. Or, even if that money sits in an account in the Cayman Islands for awhile or buys someone a new Mercedes and a palatial estate, it still will go someplace else later. And we have no idea where it will go or how it is spent. Who will benefit? Will they be worthy of our donation? Worth? By whose perception?
It’s the perception that determines the intent and the action. How do we change a global perception? We change our own first, then the Second Law of Thermodynamics takes over one cat at a time and disperses on its way. We have no control over the outcome.