Crise de conscience

By Geoffrey Paul
February 24, 2009

Like me, you are probably finding it hard to make the cash go around nowadays. It's not just that the essentials of living - like food and transport and household utilities - cost ever more. It's also the fact that, if you have any savings, they seem to speedily be heading for that never-never land which the economists drably identify as negative equity. One of the more dire aspects of this development is that those of us who have been brought up to regard charitable giving as part of our Jewish identity are having to do that which is the most depressing: to pick and choose between those good causes we have previously supported, no matter how modestly, and ditch some of them. I find myself consigning more and more appeal envelopes to the waste basket, some with a real pang, others with surprise that I have ever donated to them at all. The process of refining will inevitably continue for as long as the credit crunch tears away at disposable incomes. Which makes all the more difficult the proper response to those relatives, dear friends, children of friends, even grandmothers of children of friends who seek your sponsorship, patronage and hard cash as they set out to conquer Everest on mountain bikes or chase tigers through some overgrown undergrowth – all in the name of charity. Do you think it would be rude/unreasonable to suggest they indulge themselves nearer home and donate the saving to their favoured charity? I really don't want to upset them by saying anything. Will you do it for me?


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