By Kazeem Abolore Yesterday, on my way back home from…
By Adeyoose Olusola
The natural inclination of man is to seek validation and approval. His need for public endorsement is better explained in the context of the animal kingdom - where gaining respect and admiration enhances survival.
This desire for acknowledgment and commendation is in itself healthy, and indeed the motivation for many great human endeavours, but it quickly runs amok if unchecked.
There lies the need for introspection and reflection. There comes the need to curtail unbridled ambitions. Every thought, every idea should be thoroughly examined. So that self seeking cravings are aborted and the less privileged are not exploited, in guise of public donations.
In this party of feigned concerns for the downtrodden, no one dons better attires than political office holders or wannabes. Their colours are the brightest and their linen the choicest. By some stroke of magic, market women and street children suddenly become noticeable, weeks to elections. Without hesitation or reluctance, every resource is then mobilised for “stomach infrastructure”.
But those are political jobbers. One need not take their merry band seriously. Distance should however be maintained, so their illness is not transferred, if contagious.
Now to the zealously held and sadly, familiar: The devotion in some temples is high, but more for contests during harvests. Either to appeal to human psychology, or to ensure transparency, anonymity of donors is jettisoned. Names and family donations are published.
So the affair, for the vain hearted, becomes a race to lead the pack. Or to at least match contemporaries, if there is no means. Even those who ordinarily will not donate are forced by that method. The results will be in public glare. So the shame of making no contribution gates many penniless members at home.
But despite that narrative, it is not yet a central teaching that acts of philanthropy be trumpeted. The bible in fact speaks to the contrary. One can reason with the way of the world nonetheless. Charitable organisations need to show evidence for donor funds. But if philanthropy is done out of personal account, why draw attention to it?
When we gather the hungry, the homeless, the wretched, and take pictures of kind selves as we provide relief, we simply are mocking their sorry state. When we upload those pictures for Instagram likes, and in exchange for retweets on Twitter, we strip our victims of dignity.
Yet, can’t charity be announced so the community can imitate? Certainly it can. But he really must be a peculiar man, that finds no example of good behaviour but himself.
It is good and praiseworthy to be a philanthropist. But it is even better to be a quiet one.
Adeyoose writes from Ibadan, he can be reached via firstname.lastname@example.org