Monday, January 05, 2009


Webster's Dictionary* defines charity as:
  1. Benevolent goodwill toward or love of humanity.
  2. a) Generosity and helpfulness especially toward the needy or suffering; also: aid given to those in need, b) An institution engaged in relief of the poor, c) Public provision for the relief of the needy.
  3. a) A gift for public benevolent purposes, b) An institution (as a hospital) founded by such gift.
  4. Linient judgment of others.
Other than a vague association with Charity Churchmouse (from the 80's "Psalty, The Singing Songbook"...anyone? anyone?), I haven't often run into this word. It seems archaic. Cheesy, even. Charity. Wasn't the art of charity lost around the turn of the coloured television?

Even so, I'd have to say that I find myself regularly practicing #1, #2 (a, b, and, indirectly, c), and #3 in its entirety. #4 is still something that I'm working on...forgive me... But isn't charity more than just "benevolent goodwill"?

In the same way that I dislike the term "hiking" and prefer "a long, meandering walk in the woods with no particular destination in mind", I wonder if I'd take to using the word "charity" if it sounded more like this:

"That's the problem with charity: you have to mean things. You have to mean things to help people. Like the time I volunteered to help out at a soup kitchen...and very nearly made it."
- Will, About a Boy

* Andrew looooves it when people quote from Webster's. Shout out to you, La!

1 comment:

Mie said...

yeah it's not really about charity but about justice; I really dislike the english "white man's burden" pity-attitude that has tarred the word.

Happy and Blessed New Year!