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Article kindly submitted by Jon Risdon
Do you like people telling you what to do? I know I don’t, so I’m not about to start telling you what to do. I do like to think that I’m always willing to listen to a sensible idea however, so I want to give you something to think about.
I think most people would agree that we [the British, that is: I can't really speak for the rest of the world!] are a pretty generous lot, especially when it comes to giving to charity – what could be better than trying to help people who are down on their luck, were born with some sort of disadvantage, or are suffering [which also applies to animals]?
Aside from all the government cuts, even though they do have a bearing on all this, our giving is even more commendable when times are as hard as they are at the moment for most of us [and don't forget, "We're all in this together"!], but do you ever wonder if we’re being taken advantage of; that our generosity is being abused? Naturally, the first question that will come to mind is “Well what would happen to all the good causes if we stopped donating?” Lots of human beings and animals would suffer, to a greater or lesser extent, that’s for sure.
I’m not saying that charities in themselves are wrong; the majority of them were set up with the best of intentions, undoubtedly, but it’s the system that makes them necessary which is wrong, and to make matters worse, this forces most of them to be commercial businesses to survive. There’s an old saying: “Charity begins at home”, and that’s very fine, but there’s a difference between genuine altruism, one of the best attributes by far we possess as human beings, and an expectation of charity, from necessity, which is the way it is now. We are alleviating symptoms, and not very well at that, rather than curing the disease. “What choice do we have?”, you might ask. Well, before I answer that, let me give you an analogy.
Apart from what could be called inert matter; in other words, some of the materials our world is built from, nearly everything else we see in it is organic: it grows, and needs nourishment to survive, and that includes the groups and organisations we make to decide how our society operates. If organic matter isn’t nourished, it will die, but sometimes that can have a positive effect: something better will spring up in its place.
Now apply that to charities: they survive, and continue to grow, because we keep nourishing them, but the people who are supposedly in control [i.e., government] know that, and are very happy to let it continue. Now obviously, we can’t just expect to all stop giving to charity to force the system to change, because it doesn’t work like that; but there are other things we can do [and obviously, I want to be able to offer positive suggestions, rather than just pointlessly moaning about my pet hates!].
As individuals, we have more power than we actually realise, and that is what those who ‘have authority over us’ are scared of [their authority only derives from our agreement to accept it]; sure, one vote in an election doesn’t make much difference, and two million voices raised in protest didn’t prevent us going to ‘war’, but if enough people work together for change, then it will happen: fact. It’s not ‘pie in the sky’ to say that we advance as a society by cooperation & concensus: we can’t agree about everything all the time of course, but I truly believe that competition, which is a very simple definition for ‘business’, can only hold us back. We really do have the power to make the world the way we want it: we do it all the time, with nearly every decision we take, with our purchases, the people we associate with, and so on. There is always a better way to do anything, but trying to do better than everyone else by earning as much money as possible, to buy all sorts of expensive junk is not the answer. That’s just what the system we are used to makes us believe.
Just suspend your disbelief for a while, and consider if everything was free: we wouldn’t need money would we, so no need for competition; we’d just do what we enjoyed doing, within reason, and by that I mean there would be no justification for causing unnecessary injury, harm, or loss. Sure, people might be greedy at first, but hopefully that would die out pretty quickly when people realise that there would be enough in the world for everyone, if our needs are modest. Wishful thinking maybe, but greed becomes unnecessary when there is abundance. Before you say that what I am suggesting is impossible [and you can bet that someone will!] just consider this: if everybody says that something is impossible, it will be, because they will all act accordingly! How does a placebo work? It works because we believe in it. I don’t have all the answers to a myriad of questions you might have about this, but there are plenty of people in the world who are trying to come up with effective ways of bringing this about [including doing all the nasty jobs people only do for money now!], so if you’re interested, have fun trying to find them: I’m not selling any particular group or scheme, but if you genuinely want to find out more, just ask me.
What about practical action? Well, first & foremost, don’t think you are powerless: think about what you aren’t happy with, and don’t be afraid to say so! I don’t just mean at home, or in the pub or whatever: there are plenty of ways to get people you know interested, and stimulate discussion, like Real Whitby, Facebook, letters to the Gazette, and so on. Knowledge is power, so they say, so find out about stuff, seize the power, and use it! I’m not advocating civil disobedience, of course [although there are many situations in which that does appear to be the only solution left to us by 'the powers that be'] but, to use another analogy, if we refuse to accept that the sea is going to wash our land away, and we reclaim it and protect it, we change it for the better. We can do the same with our actions and our lifestyle: don’t accept what you aren’t happy with, speak up, tell politicians and paid officials you aren’t happy with the way they do things, push for change [but politely, and non-violently please!], move your money from avaricious banks to more ethical companies, such as credit unions [but check them out first: they're not all the same!], grow your own food if you can, have fun making things for yourself, support local businesses [most of them are owned & operated by your friends or family, after all!] – all these suggestions contribute to making the world a more cooperative & enjoyable place! Be the change you want to see!