Charity and Other Atrocities

The female supervisor in the film “Hidden Figures” is an icon in my brain. She speaks condescendingly to the Black mathematician working on ballistics for NASA saying, “Honey, that's just the way it is!” These are chilling words to those of us who want the world to wake up from the stupor of sub-strate suffering which grips the entire world. The children can see the horror of this game, and they suffer now.

Injustice and enforced stratification of societies everywhere has resulted in a level of pain lurking just below the threshold of recognition for every sentient being on planet Earth (Terra; Gaia). Our institutional responses are: “Save the Children” or “Concert for Bangladesh” or “Send in the Guard with food.” We are practiced at creating organizations to address particular deficits in the social fabric, while seeming unable to repair the fabric itself or to prevent further tearing. A “charitable” organization is, for me, a confession of failure.

I continuously refer to “primitive” groups in which the entire function of “charity” was embodied in the individuals who were allowed to minister directly to their fellows in need. There was no call for support from abroad since the tribal/extended family unit was mostly self-sufficient and lived in the place which had given rise to their way of life.

The terrible city-country divide evident in our Republic could not have emerged in a land which fed and clothed and housed everyone living as was true in the beginning of each local group.

A sweeping generality (for which I am notorious): If a person lacks some necessary thing to which they ought to be entitled, someone else has decided that the other should not have what they now need. [Daniel Quinn and others] has referred to “locking up the food” as the first commercial entitlement. In a “primitive” society, food and shelter are recognized as rights from newborn to death. What have we done to ourselves to hold that these things must be earned??

Remediation or “mitigation” are now the answer for statist people who have forgotten and judged unproductive citizens to be needing “charity” rather than standing in need of their due as humans. The flight of rural youth to the cities has created a class of dependant people who would be helpless without the jobs and the “social safety net” provided within urban life.

Authoritarian states impose law to ensure good behavior. Charitable institutions extort money from folks with disposable income to promote better care for the less fortunate. I believe that Dear Jesus had a few things to say about that situation.

Taboos are the unspoken equivalent of “Thou shalt not . . . “ for primitive (tribal) people. Laws are supposed to be the conventional enactment of taboos, made up without the accompanying cultural equivalent of “Thou shall . . . “ like Jesus' pronouncement of the one Great Law. A taboo provides the stick, while membership in the trusted group is all the carrot one might need to reward “good” behavior. Being within will be preferable to being “shunned,” for there is considerable risk in becoming an “outlaw.”

People with no fixed address and no visible contribution to offer the community where they are (existing without really engaging) are commonly regarded as outlaws, though they may not have broken any law, other than a vagrancy ordinance. We, who would offer those folk a handout are merely perpetuating injustice. What is needed is “reclamation” rather than “reform.” Administering charity to the less fortunate is ineffective and also arrogant.

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