So I stumbled along a fascinating story about a young boy who was given a robotic arm at a Shriner’s hospital. For those who don’t know the Shiner’s are a special Freemason organization. And the Shriner’s hospital is part of the Shriner’s Hospital’s for Children. What are they? They are free hospitals for children, funded by Freemasons who want to make the world a better place. Part of these hospitals are for treatment, but almost another major part is for research.
We as Masons are charged with the importance of relief in our organization. But it isn’t enough just to just help someone, we have to think how to IMPROVE in our help of them. Feed a man a fish, he’ll eat for a day. Teach a man to fish, he’ll eat for a lifetime. Splice a fish’s genes so it becomes twice as big and that one man will be able to feed two men for a lifetime.
There is a problem that we have in this country sometimes. This world even. The problem is that we often look to help other without thinking of the larger ramifications of it. Why are we helping them? Are we truly helping them? If you have a child who regularly gets into fights, are you helping them by unconditionally supporting them, or are you hurting them by not trying to keep the fights from beginning in the first place.
The Shriners are thinking the same way.
While the overwhelming emphasis of the hospitals is to provide medical care to children regardless of the family’s ability to pay, the mission of the hospitals also includes research on the conditions treated and the education of medical professionals, including medical residents and fellows, nurses, physical, recreation, and occupational therapists, speech and language pathology,psychologists, social workers, and child life specialists.
It’s not just about helping sick kids, but it’s also finding way to do it better.
And the Shiner’s are not alone in their focus on progression forward for relief.
The Midnight Mission is also run by Freemasons. And it’s not just about getting people food, but bringing them back in and rehabilitating them. The Midnight Mission is constructed of several phases for the prospective member who wishes to get off the streets.
The Midnight Mission offers a path to self-sufficiency to men, women and children who have lost everything. Our emergency services, 12-step recovery program, job training, education and work programs offer a compassionate bridge to productive lives. We remove obstacles to self-sufficiency and provide the accountability and structure that people who are experiencing homelessness need to rejoin their communities. Our conviction and commitment to their success define us.
It is all too common for many philanthropists to not consider the overall point of their giving. It can be argued that charity can also be very damaging. Surprised? Don’t be, there is numerous examples scholarly work and media reporting showing this to be real.
This is an interesting article that explores the negative effects of charity. It’s a real thing and something we need to be aware of. Here are the main points.
1. Charities often target symptoms, not problems.
2. Charity may become a substitute for real justice
3. Charity may not provide the best solution to the problem
4. Charity may benefit the state rather then the needy
5. Charity may lead to favoritism, not fairness
6. The relationship between charity and the tax system can do harm
7. Our charitable giving is often inefficient
8. Is it ethical to give charity with string attached
And then one more I will add, that this article doesn’t touch on
9. It can create a system where people of a certain identity group or status may end up creating a system that perpetuates their status.
You will often see buildings, stadiums, museums, schools and so forth being named after people who give. But if you sit back and think sometimes, are they giving effectively. Is there a better use for their money?
Sometimes you will see people donate a lot of money to their community and then local university. Inadvertently creating a system where this community ends up betting a huge boost over the other surrounding communities. And then that community will grow disproportionately richer and richer as the cycle continues. People grow in with advantage, go to university with advantage, and return to their community and “give back”. And the maw between them and the have nots grows wider. Yet no one would dare question them for they are giving and helping people, right?
Charity and relief must be done with education. And not just for those receiving the charity, but also for those who give it. When we speak of relief, we must be always be prudent in the decisions we make.
And when I speak about this, I’m not speaking to other Masons but I’m speaking to everyone. We all at times in our lives have given to others in the form of charity or have come to someone’s relief. This involves all of us and this is something we must all consider.