By Christopher Morgan
It seems we are forever bombarded with news of war, poverty or famine. You can’t turn on the television nowadays without seeing at least one advert with images of dying children or crying mothers.
Each ad tries to pull at our heart strings, hoping to cause us enough pain that we put our hands in our wallets and fork out a few pounds a month.
But is that enough? Does a quick phone call and a loss of £2 a week really admonish our guilt? Does giving away such a small percentage of our monthly wage really make us feel that we are making a difference?
We like to believe that by giving a couple of quid a month, that we, in some small way, are helping bring fresh water to a small village, or we are paying for a vaccine for one child.
But isn’t this vision short sighted? Our small charity giving is of course welcomed with open arms but such a small monetary figure is not enough unless every person in the UK puts their hands into their pockets too and repeats the action daily.
This sort of alms giving is more like “TV tuned charity” giving. We feel guilty throughout the advert and some of us will pick up the phone and give generously. But most lose our guilt as soon as the advert ends. Many of us feel the guilt slide away once the last scene finishes, and soon after we are far more engrossed in our favourite show or film to even give the poor child or family or village a second thought.
Maybe this isn’t so surprising considering our attention spans. The news has to be sharp and snappy to keep most of us awake and concentrated. Often we only wait for the “best bits”, waiting for our local team’s results or if the weather is going to hold out for our beach trip tomorrow. The sad fact is that we as a species appear content to live our lives as if only our own problems matter. Only the most close and personal tragedies will ever really rile us enough to take action.
We all vehemently protest that money is tight and this is true, we are faced with a momentous debt crisis. But what if we were the starving child, or lived in the village without clean water or without crops? Surely we would hope that our “rich” counterparts in Europe, Oceania and America would save us…
This article probably took most of you a couple of minutes to read, which is almost twice the length of most charitable based adverts, and yet almost none of us would read this and decide to pick up the phone to a charity or go on their website. Instead we click to the next page or turn on the TV and tune in.
These are the sad facts at the moment, we are too wrapped up in our own little worlds and stresses, that we forget about the poor and the homeless. We forget about the child who has to walk five miles just to get clean water or the women who watches her son slowly die of malnutrition. The question is how desperate does the poor need to look or how close to death do the ill need to appear for us to take notice?
Our darkest hours in life are meant to show our best qualities through courage and valor, and this is a perfect time for everyone to show their better nature. So the next time an advert showing the plight of a drought in the Sudan comes on, don’t just press the mute button or go and make a cup of tea. Instead take action, go to the websites, go to the phone, and delve deep into your pockets. Forget about buying the latest film, or the newest magazine! Instead make a real difference to the people less fortunate than ourselves!
When we are old and grey let us not look to the past with shame but with smiles and joy knowing we made the difference! We told the world that poverty, injustice, famine and war should end, we changed the way people thought and how governments thought and it all started with a phone call from every man, woman and child in the United Kingdom.