I love spending Sunday mornings doing a car boot sale in aid of the Yellowmen charity. Obviously I dislike the early start and the frantic setting up as impatient punters rummage through your unloaded bags in search of some hidden gem, but once everything settles down the thrill of the day kicks in. When people realise that yours is a charity stall, most are generally happy to pay the allotted price tag, others haggle and some even tell you to keep the change. But occasionally, the comment is made, “Charity begins at home you know.”
The general understanding of this phrase is that you should give aid first and foremost to those closest to home; that the needs of the people in your physical proximity should come first. This interpretation implies that we have to make a choice; that it is our duty to help local charities at the expense of those overseas. But do we not have an equal duty to support both?
Surely everyone has the right to be happy. Doesn’t everyone have the right to clean water, an education and affordable medical services? We all have hopes, aspirations and dreams. Do we not all have equal value, or is one life more or less significant than another?
It could in fact be argued that people who live in abject poverty in countries outside the welfare state have far greater needs than those at home. Without a welfare state to protect and promote economic and social well-being, who will look out for those living in extreme poverty? True, but this argument once again infers that there is a hierarchy of need and that a choice must be made.
I offer a different interpretation to the phrase charity begins at home. My understanding is that the importance of charitable acts and good deeds should be taught within the family setting. Children learn by example and parents have a duty to instil in them empathy and a respect for all humanity. We can all make a difference in life.
Nobody can do everything, but everyone can do something.
~ Author Unknown