Sunday, December 24, 2006

The Spirit of Giving

At the risk of sounding cliche, Christmas isn't just about giving presents to those you love or at least feel obligated to give something to. The type of giving that we should be doing is for those less fortunate. Many people already do this, but some try to make a big production number out of it to show off how generous they are. They'll pull out all the stops, complete with media coverage and oversized check for however much they'll be donating. And it's really great PR.

But is it really charity?

On the one hand, it most definitely is. After all, you're giving of yourself to help others. At some basic level, the big production number does meet the definition of charity. It may be gaudy and over the top, but it is charity to a point.

On the other hand, charity isn't really about how you look to the rest of the world. J. C. Watts once defined character as what you do when nobody's looking, and I think that concept applies to charity as well. If you would have donated without considering the attention it would bring to you, then you're getting into the spirit of giving. That's when charity truly begins, in my opinion. When you give not out of obligation, but out of genuine desire to help others, you're acting out of charity.

Whether you're planning a big holiday charity gala or simply dropping loose change into the red buckets of the Salvation Army, keep in mind why you do it and strive to make it more about those you help than about helping yourself.

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