Does Buying Nice Things Make Me Uncharitable?
On Monday my mother and I went shopping at our local gift shop. We had just had coffee and pastries at Gail’s Bakery and a lovely conversation with one of the locals who bought us a second cup of coffee, what an absolute gent! A man on the table next to us said ” you see, good things happen on Mondays” ( I tend to agree with this ) It’s everyday interactions like this that make the world go round. Mum and I were buzzing, literally! We decided to have mooch around the shops which we often do together. I was on the hunt for a beautiful straw basket bag. I was in luck, they had baskets of all size and shape. I mentioned that the one I really had my eye on was the infamous Loewe basket, embossed with their logo in leather. Prices range from £450! I mentioned that if I had the money I would buy one.
Upon this revelation the sales assistant proceeded to question my ethics; ” Oh really? you would buy one would you?” Yes, I said, If I had the money.
Curious, she continued; ” I would much rather donate that money to charity, the feeling you get from a purchase like that is fleeting but helping someone else is much more rewarding. Considering what’s going on right now wouldn’t you rather help other people?”
Picture me at this point, mouth agape, eyes wide in shock at this afront. That’s very presumptuous on her part I thought.
Ok, here is where I have a problem with this, charity aside, why is purchasing fashion or beauty seen as self indulgent and superficial?
Can’t I contribute to charity and still purchase what I want? Why should it be one or the other?
It’s like saying to someone ” why are you eating when there are so many people starving? “
Should I walk around in a binbag because fashion is fleeting and superficial?
My mother than said ” well I like food and wine”
The shop assistant says back ” Oh no, I wouldn’t waste my money on food and wine, I much rather go to the Theatre or watch the Ballet.”
We all have pleasures, be that collecting plants, books, going on trips, eating at nice restaurant’s, the theater, ballet etc.
What makes your pleasure more justified? Why don’t you give that money to charity then?
Don’t you enjoy nice things that you have worked hard for? Perhaps you have to wait till Christmas to treat yourself to special biscuits from Fortnum and Mason? I could say well that’s fleeting as you will only enjoy them while they last whereas my basket I will treasure and use and enjoy forever!
Also I think charity is not solely about just giving, is it not helping in your community? Raising awareness of current situations and providing information on different ways in which people can help? Donating food or clothing, fundraising.
I will not be apologetic, belittled or made to feel guilty for the things that bring me joy.
There will always be suffering and sadness in the world no matter how much you give or do.
So should we all live a pious life?
Consequently we left the shop without purchasing anything.