Discover more from Learning by Proxy with Vivek Srinivasan
We are living in a world where compassion is a critically endangered trait.
Recently I wrote a blog about the throwaway culture. One of the conversations turned to my grandmother. She used to hoard everything and repair things that did not have any use. She would pick up pants that I had grown out of years ago, fix them and keep them inside; just in case. If it turned into an argument, she would simply say, I will wear it!
She has an exceptionally hard life. She lost her husband at a young age and was left with two sons who were yet to reach their teens. She was herself only 8th standard passed. Her husband occupied a secretarial position in the government (for those who do not know, it is quite senior). Given my grandmother’s situation, the government of India told her that if she could clear matriculation in 6 months she would be offered a job in the government under compassionate grounds. She did clear the exam and she did get the job.
If that job had not been on offer, she would have been in dire straights. She might have been forced to move back to her village and I don’t know if I would have even existed.
I am here because the government of India was compassionate.
Sikhs have a principle that nobody should die of starvation. Every gurdwara across the world has a communal kitchen which is run by volunteers and donations. They serve food to anybody who needs it irrespective of their gender, caste, religion, ethnicity or the myriad other divisions you can think of. If you are a human who needs food, you can come and eat.
Anybody can volunteer, not only for donations but also for services such as washing up plates, cooking, etc.
While on the one hand, it is an act of great compassion, at the same time it does not require superhuman effort to perform it.
I suppose our memories are not so fragile to have forgotten how important frontline workers were in our fight against COVID-19.
#Heroes #HealthcareHeroes This and myriad other rubbish was circulated around the web. Did we really care?
They are paid just a shade more than $3000 per month while companies would not flinch at paying 1000 times that sum to the CEO.
There is a huge strike underway in Los Angeles where hotel workers are demanding more pay. Nobody even knows about it because they are not writers! Messaging is not their strongest suit.
A lot of the suffering across the world is for the basic necessities of life. When I say this, the immediate picture that would be conjured in your mind would be of African kids running naked in a desolate region of Africa or poverty in Asian countries. People struggling in the slums and working in sweatshops.
A YouGov survey by the Food Foundation, a food poverty charity, found that in June 2023, 17.0% of households in the UK were ‘food insecure’ (ate less or went a day without eating because they couldn’t access or afford food), up from 8.8% in January 2022 and 7.4% in January 2021.
Source: House of Commons Library
17% of the UK population is food insecure. They depend on food banks to buy food and groceries. And let me tell you this is not for the want of food or the Ukraine war. There are hundreds of hotels in those very same places throwing away perfectly good food that would have been cooked for buffet and leftover.
In January 2021, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, 11.6 percent of the US population, or 37.9 million people, were living in poverty(using as an example a family of three earning less than $21,559).
That is 11% of the country! Let that sink in. America is the Philanthropic Capital of the world. Every billionaire is “giving away” their wealth.
Who are they giving it away to you ask?
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Trust last quarter bought 1.7 million shares of Anheuser-Busch, valued at around $95 million, according to a regulatory filing, signaling that Gates has confidence in the beer company that has been dealing with a steep sales slump of one of its biggest beers.
I suppose their compassion was overwhelmed by the difficulties being faced by this multi-national addictive substances manufacturer.
From my own experiences, what I have seen is that there is an inverse relationship between a person’s wealth and their willingness to truly GIVE.
Wealth makes your heart grow smaller.
When did we forget, how to be compassionate?