Confessions of a 20-something #9

Graphic Jenny Kwan

It becomes apparent that we are living in cynical times when acts of kindness are so heavily questioned and scrutinized.

It is baffling how often the sincerity of people’s charity is questioned. This is not only seen through critics of public figures, but increasingly amongst everyday people.

I was browsing the net, catching up on my news last week, and I came across a story about the infamous Justin Bieber. The article was about how the pop star was caught on tape…but this time giving the shoes off his feet to a young boy in Guatemala.

Scrolling down to the comments proved to be a bad idea. A lot of the top comments called out ‘PR stunt’ or ‘staged.’ While Bieber does not have the reputation of being a charming knight in shining Canadian armour, who are we to judge the sincerity of his actions in that moment?

A lot of celebrities and public figures are very involved in charity work. Some are arguably a lot more public about their work than others, but does that really change the fact that they are doing something good for society? While examples of the rich and famous do not hit close to home, the same type of mentality can be observed in everyday life. In a sense, it feels as if we have been conditioned to question why someone is being kind, to question the sincerity of people’s actions towards others and us, and to find the ulterior motive behind it all.

With Christmas on its way, charities are looking for volunteers and many fundraisers will be held in the city, and on campus. People will be taking to social media to share their events, and also share the work they are doing. Photos, event pages, and updates will be made available to all. What seems to be a common belief is that some do good work for the sake of getting recognition and praise. With this type of mentality, the notion of being altruistic is thrown out the window.

I’ll be honest; I used to be annoyed when I saw people doing this. I think it is important that one’s heart is in the right place when performing acts of kindness. However just because someone makes it public it doesn’t mean they aren’t doing it for the right reasons.

We are in no position to judge the sincerity of other people’s actions. This is especially true if the person judging is a little rusty in the kindness department themselves. The Instagram photo does not negate the fact that there are a few more cans in the food bank, waiting for a family to pick them up; or that a little boy will be able to take home some warm sweaters for the cold winter weather. One could definitely do without the noblesse oblige attitude, but otherwise the act of kindness still stands.

The questioning of one’s sincerity in situations like these doesn’t really amount to anything. The time spent gossiping, going through photos and making remarks is time that can be put towards a much better cause. I’m not naïve, I do understand that some people do things for the benefit of themselves more than others, but as far as I am concerned I like to think that a large majority of people who perform acts of kindness do so out of the goodness of their own heart, and for the sake and happiness of others. I know, I know, cue the Disney music, and let in the bird and smalls rodents for a dance routine.

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