I’m going to take a few minutes today to talk about one of those things that we are not supposed to talk about, religion.
I can’t speak for other religions but most of the Christian ones that I have been involved with are a business disguised as a religion. That does not mean that they don’t do a good job providing moral guidance, but I can’t say that I always agree with their opinions or the way they go about doing things.
In church today we had a visiting missionary from India. He started by talking about all of the things that his government had to apologize for. It was a long list and there is no doubt that many of those things were true. I don’t doubt for an instant that this person believes that he is a good person trying to help others. The thing that is always just beneath the surface is that this person is a Christian in a predominantly non-christian country trying to convince people that his religion is best. He is here in Canada asking us to give him money so he can go back to India and help people.
I can’t say for sure that this is the case but I suspect that in order to get his help you have to agree to practice his religion. If that is the case then we would be giving him money to bribe people to do something that they may not want to do. That is just wrong and I don’t want any part of it. Charity is unconditional and like government should be completely separate from religion. People in need are just that, people in need. He talked about the abuse of women in his country, about the abandonment of female babies, about child labor and several other things that motivate people to want to take action. He was a good speaker but I just couldn’t see past the hidden agenda.
So what is a person to do? There are so many people in need and as the ancient Chinese proverb goes “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.”
Before we solve the worlds problems we have to recognize that every problem has at least two sides and most have more than two. One problem that immediately presents itself is that behaviour is learned and things that are learned over a long period of time become expected and natural. Some organizations try to avoid the retraining problem by going after the people who have not yet had time to develop learned behaviour, children. This is also a grey area as every parent has the right to raise their own children according to their own beliefs and customs.
While I was searching for the best way to be charitable, my son who just completed a university course in international business suggest that I look at a web site that they studied in class. Kiva uses a crowd sourcing model to help fund people in third world all over the world. Check out the web site at:
It is impossible to be 100% sure that your charitable acts are not compromised, but if you’re careful, you should be able to be charitable without promoting someone else’s agenda.