Sympathy and charity have their own pitfalls.
When I am sympathetic towards a person, who is in dire need of one of the fundamentals for a decent living, the ability to act a good Samaritan by performing an act of charity, while might seem natural and humane, also in the same instant and space of action, eclipses another facet of action, which might be more necessary than giving away few alms: The anger at an injustice that prevails in the society which has brought another equal human being to such a state is overshadowed by a soft and lachrymal experience of charity.
Charity gives instant gratification – a momentary respite to the needy, and a heart full of goodness in the Samaritan, but the scope for change remains stagnant.
Acts of charity, although are magnanimous and in many cases genuine, there is a sense of complacence associated with them. The mind does not identify the disparities as problems, but as a condition that already exists, and only tries to heal it superficially with mini to micro acts of giving away of alms. Not to brand the whole act with a tinge of my cynicism, but it is futile in the bigger picture.
Just a utopian hypothesis : If all the people who are engaged in charity, would end up being enraged by the injustice in society there would be no more need for such people to go on with their acts of charity.
Ayn Rand, the staunch advocate of individualism, strikes one point right with the hammer. Altruism exists because altruists thrive on being altruistic on the miseries of others. If there were no misery in others, where will the altruistic flaunt his/her altruism.
Now, as always this analysis by Ayn Rand might seem to be on the extreme; nonetheless, the point I am trying to drive is that sympathy in most cases when converted into acts of charity has limited and short term impact. The injustice which is so vibrantly prevailing in the world we live in cannot be eradicated by humble acts of charity, but only by revolutionary acts of voicing opinions and fighting injustice in one or the other forms of struggle.
Now the uneasy term ‘revolutionary’ has been used in the post and allow me to clarify – By revolutionary, a term that has acquired connotations of being either a romantic feeling of sacrifice, or a convenient sense of token protests is not what I mean!
George Orwell in his disturbing, dystopian book 1984 says “Speaking the truth in times of universal deceit is revolutionary”, and I can only see that we are now living in times of universal deceit! Voicing one’s opinion against wrong, consistently as a way of life could be revolutionary.
Further, to a great extent legal compulsion can be pursued for many small problems which persist in the society, and for all the major problems, where the system itself presents as the problem a gradual and slow participation in a cumulative change can heal the world. Change does begin from within, but only when many have changed from within, and gotten together in pursuit of a gradual process of changing the society can we hope for the disparities to balance out!
Let not your anger be quenched by waters of charity,
May only it kindle your rage to light up fires of change in society.