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ChangingMinds Blog! > Blog Archive > 29-Jun-07


Friday 29-July-07

The Wrong Trousers and difficult decisions

Today is 'Wrong Trousers  Day' in the UK, where the idea is to wear a 'wrong' pair of trousers to work and give to charity for the benefit. Cynically, it's another give-to-charity day. Optimistically, it's another opportunity for a bit of fun whilst helping others. In this case it's a children's charity, which is always a good pull. As with movies, children and animals attract sympathy and money. Of course they are deserving, but it's a real dilemma to decide which charity is more deserving -- if you were faced with contributing to a children's charity, an overseas-aid charity or one which supported cancer research, and could only choose one, which would you choose?

The way we decide is a complex process, particularly if we have a conundrum with no easy answer. Do you go with the 'ah' factor of children, the horrors of mortal poverty or something closer to home? Faced with such choices we wring our hands and may make almost random decisions. At least having chosen, we can comfort ourselves that we at least helped somebody.

Other charity choices include the dilemma of beggars and buskers, where people either give or (mostly) hurry on by. I pass a number every day on the way to work. The official view is that you should not give to beggars on the street as there is state provision and that much of the money they get goes into drink and drugs. Sometimes I relent, but generally I prefer to give occasionally to buskers who at least provide some pleasure and are effectively freelance entertainers. I am persuaded most by official street collections for recognized charities -- these are undertaken by volunteers and I have at least some hope that the money will be used wisely, although the question of administrative costs is a little concerning (though charities are so scrutinized these days I think this is better than it once was).

And so I wear novel trousers and look for the Wensleydale. I have a special place in my heart for Wallace and Grommit as I first watched The Wrong Trousers when I was very upset after hearing my sister had cancer. It lifted me as I know it has given pleasure to so many others.

And so I give to charity, partly out of guilt and partly out of concern, and maybe less than I should. The choice to contribute a little to people in need is personal one and at the heart of our way of life, and the fact that so many charities and good causes thrive on volunteers is, in a world wracked with vice and bad news, a testament to the human condition.

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