Of all the strange things our society takes for granted, there is one that the shrewd peasant in me just does not understand, not even a little bit: running for charity.
Maybe I should be less specific and get over my own hatred of running. The thing I don't get is the whole concept of: "I'm about to do unpleasant thing X, therefore YOU should give money to random charity Y".
I mean, I don't have a problem with raising money for charity, I think it's a great thing to do, but why don't people just, you know, ask?
Why do they have to run/swim/shave their heads/take a bath in beans as well?
It's not like they're doing anything FOR me, and giving away the proceeds. Nope, they just do a random gratuitous thing.
Why? Is it meant to be a thank you? Am I meant to feel gratitude that YOU are forcing YOUR body to move at an unpleasant pace from random point A to random point B?
Do people think their suffering will make me more likely to give? If so, why? Are they asking me for money and accusing me of a touch of sadism at the same time?
Seems counter-productive to me.
Now of course, I have my own theory as to why - much as I love to rant, I like to pretend I have at least a bit of a point - my guess here is that this phenomenon is an attempt at secularising (yes, it's a verb now) redemptive suffering.
I think people are vaguely grappling with the idea that effort and suffering are worth something in themselves, but as they will not go near such concepts as salvation, the crucifixion and participating in redemption, it's all kind of odd and illogical but kind of feels right at the same time.
A bit like how people feel they should be nicer at Christmas, or that selfless-ness is admirable, or even that there is such a thing as a moral code, without admitting that such beliefs don't actually work well without a belief in God.
Similarly, there is this feeling that suffering for a good cause somehow should bear fruit (albeit magical illogical fruit because God has been taken out of the equation).
A great blogger turned radio host likes to say that as Catholics, we have the "owner's manual" to human life, and therefore can make use of all these strange, illogical impressions. And I think this is another example.
As a Catholic, I can have a really bad day - say, a small red-headed toddler in my care may decide to run madly around in the cry-room at Church, shouting "Dame! Dame!" (Which obviously means "lady" in French, but also sounds suspiciously like "damn") at the top of his lungs, strip half-naked in the narthex whilst cackling, before eventually turning into Headbutty-The-Headbutting-Giraffe when his mother attempts to control him - I could be having this completely imaginary disagreeable experience, and offer it up.
I can say: "Look here, Lord" (yes, I have a bossy prayer-voice) "this is rubbish and hard, but I know You can use it, so go ahead, take it all." I can do "disagreeable thing X" and trust that God will use it for "useful thing Y" (which may or may not include the "help Isabelle grow in patience" cause, or something completely unrelated which I will never know about).
There is a logic.
So, sorry fundraising world, but I'm calling out your imperial nakedness, so you'd better admit that, basically, you're running for charity because you're being Catholic.
|Even less related picture of St Patrick, chilling out with the pestle and mortar after all his hard work.|
Now I'm going to attend to my colicky baby and offer that up too. But never fear, I won't run.