True charity is creating the circumstances where no one will any longer need charity. How? By empowering as many people as possible to take control of their lives.

How? By getting people to recognise that whatever mess they are in, they are responsible for it.

This is where their liberation lies: if they created it – hell, they can change it!

There is no morality here. It is simply this: if people don’t take full responsibility for themselves and their lives nothing is going to change. It never has and it never will.

I stand corrected: things will change – but only for the worst; so long as they absolve themselves of all responsibility.

I know this sounds harsh. And that is just how it is.

Here is my definition of true charity: I will support you as much as I can, if you want to change. But you have to change. I cannot do that for you.


This is how ‘charity’, generally, is seen to work in our culture: a lot of people with very good intentions seek to help out people who they consider to be less fortunate than them.

Which sounds fine. And it is absolutely fine. The problem is that, most of the time, all of this do-gooding will make very little difference.

I get that you care. That you want to help out. But who do you really care about? Who do you really want to help out?

I would suggest that the answer to both questions is you. You are doing it all for your own benefit. So people can see what a ‘good’ and ‘nice’ and ‘helpful’ person you are. So they can see just how much you ‘care’.

If no one knew about what you were doing, would you bother? Really?

Perhaps you might. But then it would only be to convince yourself that you are such a ‘good’ and ‘nice’ and ‘helpful’ person, who really ‘cares’.

Which is fine. Absolutely fine.

But the question needs to be asked: Why do you need to convince yourself that you are such a ‘good’ and ‘nice’ and ‘helpful’ person, who really ‘cares’?

I’ll tell you why: because at your very core you think that not worthy, that you are not good enough. So you go to all the lengths that you possibly can to convince yourself otherwise.

But the fact that the people you are trying to help seem as messed up and as miserable, as ever, just confirms the fact that you are ‘not worthy’ and ‘not good enough’.

If, instead of going to all of that effort, and all of that trouble, to try and win a battle with yourself that you cannot win, if you just let yourself and other people be – without trying to change anything, or trying to fix anything – it is only then that you will start being at peace with yourself and the world.

And it is only then that you can be of real use to people.

If you want to know how to ‘do’ charity, check out Mother Theresa. She put aside all her concerns about trying to appear a ‘good’ and ‘nice’ and ‘helpful’ person, who really ‘cares’, and she focused all her energy and all her efforts on those who really needed her concern.

© Phillip A. Klein March 2008

Published in: on March 13, 2008 at 4:55 pm  Leave a Comment