Friday, May 11, 2007

Therapeutic giving

Yes, helping others makes you feel better. So much so, that some psychologists are treating depression with programs that include an element of 'good works' that benefit others.

In our material culture, there are so many pressures and influences that lead us to think of ourselves and to get rewards from having more stuff. We are seeing a bit of a turnaround in movements that encourage people to stop buying stuff, or make do with what they've got, or even cook more slowly and take time to enjoy mealtimes.

But mostly, we're fairly well self-obsessed.

A couple of days ago I deplored Australia's low level of foreign aid that falls short of promises the government has made. And on Monday, I blogged about the generosity of Australians. Well, an article in today's Sydney Morning Herald has me re-thinking. The article, Treasurer passes charity test that many of us fail, compares the government overseas aid with Australian's private giving to overseas causes. They say,

Australian Council for International Development, estimates the community gave almost $700 million to overseas aid last year, four times less than what the Federal Government spent on development assistance.

In Australia, voluntary giving to overseas aid is about one-eighth of the total $7.7 billion given by individuals in 2005. The $7.7 billion is the equivalent of 0.68% of gross national product.

I'm not quite sure that this evidence is enough to support the headline that the Treasurer passes the charity test. Especially when the government continues to fall so far short on its promise to give 0.7% – we're only halfway there and creeping forward in miniscule increments.

So, I'm going to persevere. I'll continue to use less in my own life and try to take time every day to consider the needs of others. This blog is one of the ways that I keep my eye on the ball.

No comments: