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Charity and we culture

Sherwyn Walters

Charity and we culture

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NOT INFREQUENTLY, we hear participants in some sectors of Crop Over complaining that the prize money is not enough.
Two years ago, performer Lil Rick in calling for an increase, said that  in order to put on a good show a Party Monarch artiste may spend $20 000. He added: “If you don’t win, you lose money.” Others have since then said similar things.
And this year Kadooment bandleader Gwyneth Squires also lamented that the prize money does not cover what it costs to put out a band.
All right, granted that it is a contest and competitors are due something. But would you grant also that a poor Barbados can’t match whatever expense contestants’ undertake?
And meanwhile, what about charity?
Charity? Yes, charity.
Since the overarching cry is that this is “we culture” and you are keen on perpetuating it, what about seeing your involvement as part charity? And instead of expecting the long-suffering taxpayers and corporate Barbados to be constantly throwing money your way, what about seeing your labour-of-love designing and aiming-for-the-spectacular soca presentations as partly a gift to your people. Some already do. Thank you.
This is not to undervalue work, contribution, and such – simply to aid a recognition that we are not a rich country and are always barely keeping the wolf from the door. Why does it so often seem that this has escaped many Barbadians?
Who, not by the way, should be more interested in supporting critical things for which there is a desperate shortage of funds.
With so many vital things in danger of going unattended, why should we think that far less important things should be allowed to swallow up the taxpayers’ and corporate Barbados’ money?
Meanwhile, where is individual charity?
Let’s leave the Crop Over scene. Someone’s house is on fire. Good neighbours brave smoke and flames and are able to salvage a few things – a chair, a table, a cabinet.
But a family’s life has been devastatingly discommoded.
In another situation, someone desperately needs an expensive operation.
Now, mind you, these unfortunate people have acquaintances and friends who been “smiling in their face” for years, have had long conversations with them, have slammed a dom with them or shared a drink – been kind of palsy-walsy.
But do they jump in with a $1 000 contribution, a $500, a $200, a $100? Because of who it is and for charity’s sake, do they stretch themselves?
Isn’t it often the case that they beg some business places and business people to help them out with financial donations, with drinks, eats, with free printed tickets – and their main contribution is to organize some kind of money-making event, charge people and pass on the proceeds from mostly strangers to their “friend”.
And the proceeds come to less than would have been raised had 20 of the so-called friends pulled more than lint out of their own pockets – even if they still organized the fund-raising event.
What I am saying is that far too many of us are not there with our own money.
The general response is that we don’t have that kind of money. Yet it appears from somewhere to go to Miami or to the Big Apple (or just Apple) or Mr BlackBerry or a Korean called, just a guess here, Park Samsung (so many of them are named Park – or am I missing something?). Or to Mr Sony or Mr Panasonic. Or to Gucci or we weave it on to our heads or throw it at fetes or bling and over-accessorized cars. You get my drift.
But it’s our money and we can do whatever the . . . heck . . . we want to do with it, we say.
Businesses, in particular, must give us their money for our friends and acquaintances while we spend ours on ourselves. We expect them, we say, to “give back”.
People often paint a picture of businesses as if they were not part of an exchange in which they provided something to somebody and justifiably received money in return.
And therefore, the reasoning seems to go, they owe “the society”.
When you sell your services to the entity for which you work, do you have a special obligation to give back to “the society”? So why do you think that having sold his products to many yous, Mr Andrew Bynoe has this pressing “give back” obligation?
Now, don’t get me wrong. Of course, I also strongly believe that Mr Bynoe should be charitable – very much so – but that has nothing to do with giving back, as though he did not complete his side of a bargain when he took our money and gave us a product.
We should all be charitable, far beyond the $5 and  $2 that we occasionally part with. But it seems that we think only businesses – and Government – should be like that.
 • Sherwyn Walters is  a writer who became  a teacher, a song analyst, a broadcaster and  an editor. Email [email protected]