Over the past five years I’ve noticed there’s been an increase in humanitarian works in Nigeria most especially on individual level and sometimes as small groups, this is opposed to the charity organizational style we grew up knowing. The Individual form leans heavily on a direct donor to recipient approach which ensures that those in need get actual and immediate benefits devoid of structural lapses.
Charity or what some would call almsgiving is more or less a generosity towards the needy, this is done strictly on humanitarian grounds and in most cases one is compelled by one’s religion.
For some months now, I’ve been pondering on the driving force behind the new wave of humanitarian acts and all I could come up with was “social media”.
We all know that in recent times social media has become a major force behind fads and trends where people enthusiastically join the bandwagon in ventures that momentarily catch their fancy without most times having a full understanding of these ventures thereby most often than not misconstrue its objectives and significance.
What I find worrisome though is the nagging feeling that humanitarian acts may have been adopted as a social media trend where individuals and small groups now come to social media to plaster pictures of people they helped and substances given. One would have thought that just like prayer, acts of service should be confined between the giver and his God and not for public consumption or am I wrong? The bible says in Mathew 6:2-3, “Thus when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets that they may be praised by others. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing so that your giving may be in secret and your father who sees in secret may reward you“. Same is stated in the Koran , check Surah Al-Baqara, verse 271, “if you give alms openly, it is well, and if you hide it and give to the poor, it is better for you and this will do away with some of your misdeeds....”.
What is the rationale behind these shows? A pat on the head? Self-aggrandisement? Do we really need to make a public spectacle of our acts of service?
Charity is laudable but it is also important to do it with decency, it should not aim at feeding one’s ego but rather to feed the hungry.
In Jane Addams’ words, “Social Advance depends quite as much on increase in moral sensibilities as it does upon a sense of duty”.