I had an interesting conversation with a friend, a few months ago. We were talking about charitable giving, and she shared with me that in her faith, you just don’t talk about what you do for charity. You give, without asking for attention. You just give. Generously.
I agree. I feel more comfortable giving anonymously. I frankly don’t want anyone to pay any attention to me, when I contribute something. It feels like it cheapens it, and it ends up being for the wrong reason.
Here’s the thing, though. We are living in a world filled with individuals who make no secret about the harm they do to others. They are constantly modeling greedy, self-serving behavior that hurts everyone around them, and they don’t have a problem telling everyone they have every right to do so.
On the other hand, there are many, many people — rich and poor — who are doing significant good in the world, but they don’t make a show of it.
So, the models we see of ostentatious behavior that’s rewarded and recognized in society at large, can end up negative and destructive.
Because we don’t see anything else.
I’d like to propose that people speak up more, when they do some good in the world. Not because they want attention for it, not because they want recognition, and not because they were thinking about what was in it for them… but for the sake of the rest of us, who are subjected to story after story about people doing awful things, but we all too rarely hear about people doing excellent things.
Now, one could argue that we can see good deeds modeled in the lives of people we know, or through the sharing of stories by others. But this seems too haphazard and too intermittent to me. Plus, if we rely only on our intimate networks to learn about what good is being done, then we miss out on the larger picture and don’t get a worldwide view.
One last argument for going public (coming out) with our charitable acts, is that people can share how genuinely good it feels to do these things. It might make the difference between someone choosing for or against doing something beneficial for another person. You never know.
But if we never talk about these things out loud, then for sure, we will probably Never Know.