(1) Assistance with money or time for a person or cause which lies outside the range of the giver’s reciprocal obligations; givers and receivers do not generally know each other’s names; no reciprocal response is expected.

(2) Warm manners. Manners on their own, for all their virtues, can sometimes suggest coldness and distance; charity cures this. It means, for instance, the manners to hold back from exploiting an advantage (e.g., in an argument); to suppose that the other person may have a case which works for her, though you do not agree; to care for a person, despite being, for the moment, angry, bored, or exhausted; to be supportive to a person driven by an inspiration which may be more heroic than rational; to be alert to friends’ needs, and to help them.

“Charity”, the word, is needed because it does something love cannot do: you can decide to be charitable, but whether you can decide to love someone is open to question. Love is what you feel. Charity is what you do.


Related entries:

Caritas, Compassion, Encounter, Gifts, Good Faith.

« Back to List of Entries
David Fleming
Dr David Fleming (2 January 1940 – 29 November 2010) was a cultural historian and economist, based in London, England. He was among the first to reveal the possibility of peak oil's approach and invented the influential TEQs scheme, designed to address this and climate change. He was also a pioneer of post-growth economics, and a significant figure in the development of the UK Green Party, the Transition Towns movement and the New Economics Foundation, as well as a Chairman of the Soil Association. His wide-ranging independent analysis culminated in two critically acclaimed books, 'Lean Logic' and 'Surviving the Future', published posthumously in 2016. These in turn inspired the 2020 launches of both BAFTA-winning director Peter Armstrong's feature film about Fleming's perspective and legacy - 'The Sequel: What Will Follow Our Troubled Civilisation?' - and Sterling College's unique 'Surviving the Future: Conversations for Our Time' online courses. For more information on all of the above, including Lean Logic, click the little globe below!

Comment on this entry: