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ACTS OF GOODWILL: Transparency or Showmanship?

– by Tayo Faloye, 2nd May, 2020.

He was at the forefront of the social onslaught against people publicizing their humanitarian services and acts of goodwill to the needy cum challenged. It didn’t matter to him if it was a cause being done by a NGO or not. To him, it was tantamount to showing off. He cited the Hadith and Bible verse to reinforce his argument: “when you want to give someone something, don’t allow your left hand to see what your right hand is giving”. It was a waste of time trying to convince him. He was vehement in his opposition to it. No explanation would suffice to make him see otherwise.

Months down the line, he had a noble idea to help the vulnerable. He needed collaborations to make it happen. He reached out to the public through posts on his Facebook timeline. People bought into the idea. Donations rolled in. With willing volunteers to support the cause, they went into action touching lives. As the benevolence went on, he gave feedbacks through pictorial updates on their activities and how donated funds were being expended. The troop he once led came after him. The tide had suddenly turned. He was in the eye of the storm. His explanations fell on deaf ears. They yelled at him for showing off and called him a hypocrite. In frustration, he hit back too using demeaning words on them who were once his goons, for their contrary stance.

I watched it all in amusement as the drama unfolded while he was being doled a dose of what he had dished to others. Like this dude cited as an instance, who was opposed to reason until faced with stark hard reality, I have since learnt to stop engaging such peeps holding same unrealistic and impracticable views about charitable projects, especially where members of the public pool resources together to achieve a set goal. It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than persuading some persons set in their thinking.

To set things straight, I have asked a couple of persons who hold the narrow view that all acts of goodwill must be done covertly to give reasons for the public vitriol unleashed on pastors in recent times? In their response, it’s mainly about the obscurity surrounding church treasury (offertory & tithes) and its utilization by the so-called pastors for personal ostentatious lifestyle, without any recourse to the contributing church congregants.

Why then are they also critical of NGOs for showcasing their events as a way to render account to the public on how funds donated are being put to use and drive engagements? And, when being transparent became a crime? I asked. All I get as answers are untenable blabbering. I go further asking how the “showoff”, as they call it, affect them as persons since those who need the help are benefitting and thankful for the compassionate gestures? They go mute while some defiantly push the narrative that it opens the poor to ridicule and undue exposure.

Funny enough, some of these folks acting as the mouthpiece for the poor see nothing wrong in broadcasting the distribution of handouts by public office holders or their preferred political candidates to poor electorates, who constitute the large chunk of voters demographic. They lose the temerity to tell these political jobbers not to make public their acts of giving, which are mainly done for the electioneering purposes of gaining relevance and seeking votes. In this regard, the poor doesn’t need any shielding. It’s only with NGOS or causes they display their hypersensitivity at protecting the plight of the poor.

Palliative handouts being showcased by a politician

Hence, I came to the hard realisation that many folks are just wired to erode the efforts of others other than theirs. Cognitive dissonance prevents them picking a battle and sticking with it. They are spearheading an agitation now and next doing the direct opposite. They just must haul everything but the kitchen sink at those who dare to be different. It’s a human phenomenon and why they “cry more than the bereaved!”

In my opinion, being needy and pride don’t go together. We have witnessed men of means, celebrities, stars, etc who fell on hard times coming public to seek help in tackling health challenges or other pressing life needs. How much more the poor? There’s nothing shameful in asking for help. Society is always ready to assist persons in need, if they do not allow pride to get in the way.

I have also seen some ridiculous memes being pushed by individuals with this mindset, stating that “one isn’t meant to be generous outside when their immediate family and friends need help.” This is as stupid as it sounds and self restricting. If we go by this bland quote, then nobody ever gets a helping hand because nobody will look beyond their own personal and seclusive household troubles. Who doesn’t have struggles? It isn’t just a mere cliche that help hardly comes from familiar sources. It emerges most times from unlikely places. Thus, the need to be socially connected with people beyond family insulations. Moreover, this quote deviously pushes for imprudence. It advocates that resources pooled for a cause can be diverted to personal use by the handlers once they have a family need.

It’s appalling that this line of thought doesn’t come across as absurd to them that people can come with bowls in hand to seek donations for causes from the public through social platforms but can’t return to same spaces to share how the donated funds are dispensed in tandem with the purpose they were raised. What more indication is needed that the antagonism is only being fuelled by myopia?

Don’t get things mixed up, it is only in a private request for assistance from an individual or vice versa that the holy books mandate that such personal gesture shouldn’t be made known to others, not monies raised through crowd funding or collective efforts for a cause. And, it’s a matter of choice. I’m also bothered to note that only Nigerians engage in this contentious tendencies, despite playing humanitarian catch up with their counterparts in more advanced climes. One wonders if the said scriptural passages bandied around as their opposition weapon are only binding on us here?

Have they even thought it that some donors can choose to be unknown. They make their contributions while staying obscure but monitoring proceedings aloofly? How else do they see what had been done with funds, if projects are discreetly implemented, in accordance with some skewed religious beliefs? Did Jesus engage in showmanship too since His works (healings, feeding of the multitude, raising the dead, etal) were all done publicly, even when there were no cameras back then to relive those memorable ancient events via photographs? How much more now?

To add more spice to this issue, since businesses are obligated to give back to their community under the CSR concept, how does the public know when a company adds social values, if the deeds are not publicized but hidden? Celebrities/Stars too magnanimously give back individually to society through projects and endowments. It isn’t done only out of generosity. The goodwill promotes their personal brand and enhances positive image. Would that be possible if the acts were to be done undercover?

As long as causes mainly survive on public trust, it’s pertinent they create awareness, give account at all times on donations, grants, sponsorships and philanthropic supports they receive. Hence, without any gainsaying, it’s inapplicable and almost impossible for certain charitable causes/ projects to be done discretely so as to stay open.

The information and images shared with the public on their activities for documentation purposes (typographic & photographic) also boost credence and inspire people to support these causes. Failure to be accountable would amount to a breach of trust and comes with dire consequences.

Having said these, I appeal to those promoting this dissenting view to quit the ignorant guilt tripping. Kindly get off your religious high horse and desist from the campaign of calumny. It’s a tasteless narrative to promote.

Secrecy can be anathema to integrity.

– By TAYO FALOYE.

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