18 November 2010

The Largest Proportion

When choosing to do something worthwhile, it is not usually the amount that is important but the proportion.

If a small percentage of a person's time and/or money is put towards a worthy cause, while the rest of the time and money is used in not-so-worthy ways, is that any better than ignoring problems completely?

Even a large contribution overall should be worth less in terms of appreciation than a small amount provided at a greater personal cost to the giver. It is why I do not have much admiration for wealthy people who promote charities, participate in fund raising events or sponsor worthy causes. I am more likely to appreciate the widowed pensioner who serves tea in my local hospital and travels there by public bus once a week, for no recognition or reward except an occasional thank you and a few hours in the company of other people.

Although I appreciate the most beautiful and important works of world art and architecture, and the money that has been spent producing, protecting and restoring them, there needs to be a connection made in our minds between the world of truly beautiful things and the world of truly beautiful actions.

I am not interested in the activities of media-generated celebrities or advertising-generated heirs to financial fortunes. The largest proportion of beauty in the world is in the little acts of kindness we encounter but often ignore. Kindness seems so ordinary, so meaningless, so obvious, so unexciting, so banal to many of us that we only notice attention-seeking and unkindness.

Perhaps if more of us ignored the majority of the media and the majority of advertising and noticed the kindness around us, perhaps the world would be a much nicer place.

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