Viewpoint from Peter Glanville for 17/09/10
Member of St Peter’s Catholic Church, Gorleston
When news of the overwhelming floods in Pakistan broke, I must admit I underestimated the British power of generosity. I tho
ught that the constant trickle of negative news from that country would threaten our worldwide leadership in the ability to discern, to decide, and to donate.
In any country, suspicions of corruption be it in government, intelligence and security or even in cricket, influence our decisions to give or hold back. Add to this, in the case of Pakistan, any lurking “Islamophobia” and resentment of aid other than on our doorstep, and I thought the reputation of the UK leading the world in true but evaluated charity would be seriously under threat.
Yes I can understand the feeling that “charity begins at home”, but where an
d what is a home. That’s a question that can sadly be answered by thousands of people throughout the world, who through no fault of their own, no longer have one! What is more without worldwide help, there is little likelihood that they could ever get another one.
Then there’s the onset of sickness and disease, the threats to the basics of self reliance and education for children of today and the future.
In the parable of the Good Samaritan, the man himself threw aside the barriers of race, religion and politics – he didn’t even consider such issues. The injured man was in dire need. This was a case of unconditional “first-aid” decision making. “No question of, “Excuse me are you a Jew or a Samaritan- I only help Samaritans?” Then in leaving the man with the Innkeeper to recover, “Spend what you need and I’ll settle up on my return.” No paperwork, no “ball park figure” – just the simple trust that the essentials would be done and a readiness to pay for them.
So bearing in mind my misapprehensions, what is the situation? Yes once again we lead the world in reacting to the basic human needs of others. As individuals contributing through the major charities and DESCO the Disaster Emergency Committee, the help came in as the country responded. We are not alone in our wider vision analysis of real need. Even India and Pakistan have put aside their military and political animosity and aid of over fifty million dollars has been accepted by the stricken country. This generosity of cash but also spirit, has put other more affluent societies to shame.
The magnitude of the response transcends race, faiths, suspicion and even war zones.
Perhaps when the need is so obvious, all of us can become “non-selective Samaritans”.