Where Charity Falls Short

It should come as no surprise that there are people who live below the poverty line, in

fact, there are nearly 3 billion of them. Seeing this marginally absurd number, especially given

our capabilities nowadays, one would think we would have a solution, of sorts, to at the very

least minimalize this outbreak, and we call that charity.

Charity, as defined by the Oxford Dictionary, is “The voluntary giving of help, typically in

the form of money, to those in need”. Therefore, we can assert that the main purpose of

charity is to dispel poverty, however that is not the case. It has become apparent that charity

has become less so of actually helping people, and more so of getting a ‘quick fix’ of sorts. To

quote Slovenian philosopher, Slavoj Zizek, “when we are shown scenes of starving children in

Africa, with a call for us to do something to help them, the underlying ideological message is

something like: “Don’t think, don’t politicize, forget about the true causes of their poverty, just

act, contribute money, so that you will not have to think!”

Here, Zizek present that which has become an undeniable fundamental aspect of

charity, that it aims to solve nothing, at least nothing towards those who need the charity. It

has increasingly a mundane practice, done so for reasons that are the least bit altruistic. Charity

no longer aims to stop these events, but to add a sense of doing something. It no longer puts in

effort to prevent the cause at its root, if we are to take poverty as an example, simply giving

money, or even building homes for those affected do little to help, for the cause is not

destroyed or even examined, it leaves other vulnerable and susceptible to the same fate.

Here, charity becomes a ‘quick fix’ in two senses, in regards to those participating, and

those receiving the charity. Now, this is not to say that charity is not a noble cause, it most

definitely is, however, it is simply not enough, and should not be. The aim of helping those in

need is to no longer have more people in need, and it seems that said root cause is more or less

ignored.

Over the past two centuries, since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, humans

have marginally decreased poverty and hunger rates from nearing 90% to nearing 50%.

Although that decrease is outstanding, especially in such a short period of time, it fails to show

that we could do more. A study done by McGill University established that we produce enough

to food to feed 10 billion people, yet 80% of food produced are consumed by 23% of the global

population. Another study done by Forbes found out that the richest 85 people in the world

have as much wealth as the poorest 3 billion people combined. To put that astounding statistic

in a different light 0.00000012% of the world make more money than almost 50% of the world.

This shows us that the main cause of poverty is inequality, something which we have fiercely

fought against during the past two centuries, and something we must do now, in order to make

charity futile.

This is where charity fails today, it does not work on making it no longer necessary, it’s

just there.

Youssef Hassan