For the Love of God, the people…..and camera

Giving charity but for the sake of camera and popularity.

Imagine that you are jobless. And your kids are dying of hunger. But you have no money to buy food. There’s absolutely no way to alleviate their hunger. Your heart bleeds in sorrow. Tears run down your cheeks. You need help.

But most people are not aware of your plight.  Others wouldn’t care to help.

You are dismayed and hopeless. And your pain worsens with the increased wailing of your little children who are starving to death.

You cry for help. You beg for food.

And then from nowhere, to your utter delight, comes your messiah.

He comes with money, food and water. Too happy to help you in your time of distress. Too eager to share his wealth with you and your family.

But he’s not alone.

Behind him is an entourage of cameramen, reporters and photographers. People ready to capture your misery and your helper’s magnanimity. And within a stroke of a few minutes, all TV channels buzz with breaking news. In no time the entire world is exposed to your poverty. And the generosity of your benefactor.

Your benefactor becomes a noble celebrity overnight. But what about you?


How would you feel when the sad and somber face of your child is paraded on all screens, eliciting sympathy and awe among the audience? And he is shown being pitied by your benefactor and given money to buy new clothes and supplies to end his hunger?

Surely, you won’t like it.

You do want to be helped. But certainly not at the cost of self-esteem. You don’t want others to make a scene of your helplessness.

None of us wants to be treated like this. None of us would like others to exploit our hardships in such a manner.

But unfortunately, in our country on-camera charity is becoming pervasive. Apparently, people love to market their generosity and charitableness, and like to get themselves filmed while donating sums of money to poorer households- in utter disregard for the mental agony this causes to the poor.

Why should such benevolence be so advertised? Were we not taught at homes and in schools that the left hand should not know what the right has given in charity?

Indeed, we were.

But unfortunately, we cave in to our inner desires for on-screen popularity. We want to be seen on TV. Doing what? That hardly matters to us. The very sensation of being watched by scores of people is enough to keep us craving for publicity.

But it matters to the recipients of our publicized philanthropy.

It shatters their hearts. Makes it difficult for them to live an honorable life among communities where they are openly known to be helpless, where they are pitied by some, bullied by others and deemed inferior by all.

Don’t let the left hand know what the right has given.

It is this sense of inferiority that might hurt them most. The very fact that they’re known to depend on the goodwill and generosity of others for their survival strips them of their self-respect. Their ego is smashed hard on the ground.

Is this not despicable?

Then why treat them like this.

Can’t we help them without making our (so-called) noble deeds and their impoverishment a part of the public record? Can we not let their privations remain private and yet help them with all means possible?

Yes, we can. And indeed, we must.

The poor among us are in need of aid and assistance. They require our support to make ends meet. We must not only provide them with the means of subsistence but also take care that their self-esteem is not compromised.

Let’s not treat the poor the way we don’t want ourselves to be treated. There is no honor, humility or humanity in making out from their miseries. We should rather make up for their sufferings. And stand with them in times of distress.

As for our innate desire for being popular, I’m sure there are numerous other ways that can help bring you fame. Let’s not make someone’s indigence a source of our popularity.

Be mindful that there’s no virtue in public display of almsgiving. The only charity that counts in the eyes of the Lord is one that is given in absolute secrecy and without expecting a favor in return or any personal gains. Compassion must be coupled with discretion.

Don’t let the left hand know what the right has given.


Moneeb Ahmad Barlas
The writer can be reached at:

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