The other day, I wrote about how strange it is that charity workers must be exceptionally vocal about their good works in order to affect policy and, more importantly, fundraise. I sensed an inherent contradiction between selfless service and active self-promotion. The post attracted a number of opinions, and I engaged in a few protracted conversations about the relationship between one’s faith-drive to do charity work and religiously-prescribed humility.
The theme of these conversations seemed to match up with one of the reasons that the Faiths Act Fellowship is so important: the world doesn’t believe we exist. Here’s where it gets interesting…
There are plenty of organizations that toot their own horns – we know this because we see/hear it happening all the time. A few hours ago I was at a small reception at Westminster Abbey (guests of the Tony Blair Faith Foundation, of course) listening to one of the church’s officials describe the social justice work that the Abbey is involved in. The question regarding the other post about how loud to be in charity work was brought full circle when the official described the “behind the scenes work” that goes on, especially in regards to asylum-seekers. It was like a bolt from the blue.
Some of the best faith-based or faith-motivated charities maintain a very low profile. We don’t hear a lot about them because their work is behind the scenes, and their donors don’t need flashy postcards or constant email contact to stay loyal – they donate because it is right and good for them to do so. There have been multiple occasions where I’ve stumbled upon the websites or work of such organizations having never heard of them before.
This realization matches up with the work that the Faiths Act Fellowship is engaging in because even though I’m sure that most of us would rather work behind the scenes, we must be in the public eye to advocate for malaria eradication. Furthermore, we hope that our work will stand as an example of the good things that religion can help to achieve, not just on an interfaith basis, but on a faith basis in general.
Perhaps one of the reasons that people have negative views of religious people is because the bulk of the really active ones, those who are sacrificing lives of comfort for the life of service, are content to stay in the shadows and work. It’s not that religious people aren’t out there changing the world for the better, they simply aren’t bragging about it. I find this to be a reassuring thought.