Reflections for the UN International Day of Charity

Young Man and Woman Giving Food and Water to Homeless ManCharity is a virtue that many people have practiced and many writers have taught. However, several are misunderstanding the true meaning of charity. Charity lies at the root of all virtues and good habits, so much that a virtue practiced without charity is not even a virtue at all. Therefore, it is essential that we administer charity in our effort to build virtuous societies. Do we to practice charity in the smallest details of our every day? Do we seek the truth about charity or we subject ourselves to sentimentalism?

The truth about the human has to be sought after or we will fail to live out this important virtue. There are many cases when we have subjected ourselves to sentimentalism:  not caring about the way we conduct ourselves towards others, refusing to mend our mistakes, not apologizing to our offended friends with grace and sincerity, and always thinking we shall only give to those in need when we feel like it…no wonder some people continue to die of hunger as others are amusingly dying of satiety, and still, many more are cultivating a vice of gluttony!

We have neglected some simple details of our day to day living, which involve small wastes that lead to even larger wastes, such as when we use water excessively and leave the taps dripping, and when we do not switch off office lights once we stop working, when we extravagantly purchase more items than we actually need.  Maybe you think, hey, I can afford to pay for this waste.  However, we must consider those who can’t, those who have been deprived of what we waste, and do not even have enough food to put in their mouths.  Do we even think about them?

How does charity play out in non-profit organizations in society? There are always people in need who surround us.  One type of evidence for this is the noticeable growth of charitable organizations in society.  However, we also need to be aware that some organizations mobilize funds for charity but have little impact and do not have an outcome. It is unfortunate that the voices of those who were supposed to receive those funds are never heard. Are these organizations really doing justice for the poor? Justice is a minimum requirement, since charity goes beyond justice.  Mother Teresa provides a good example to all of us and to such organizations in demonstrating what true charity looks like.

It is important to appreciate all the people who do great work in charity. We should emulate their heroic examples, we should learn from the authentic writings which have demonstrated truth about charity. In this way, we will authentically enact charity and asserts its true definition.  Only in truth does charity shine forth, only in truth can charity be authentically lived. Let us give until it hurts, let us deeply focus with charity on every small detail of our living, of our behavior.  Let us smile to our neighbor, for however it seems, it demonstrates great charity.

By Mubiru Deograthius, a WYA Africa intern