Last night, I tweeted this:
Struggling with the juxtaposition of highly paid people asking for money for the poor…
There was (unusually!) some response to this. I clearly wasn’t the only one who felt this way (either that, or the retweets were ironic…) I should clarify, my tweet was not an out-and-out condemnation of Comic Relief, it was simply a genuine struggle. The fact that £75,000,000 was raised is, of course, very impressive. The people whose lives will be changed as a result will doubtless be grateful. But I suppose my struggle came in part from the huge gear shifts between the ‘studio’ (or ‘Zambezi’ etc.) moments and the ‘poverty’ (or examples of hardship) moments. The cost of the venture must have been high. I am familiar with the adage, ‘you’ve got to spend money to make money’, and I’m sure that’s true in fundraising, but I just found myself struggling with the difference between the haves and the have nots. The studios decked out with zillions of lights, cameras, crew etc., to the huts and shacks with no running water. I found myself questioning why we have to package fundraising like that in order for it to be a success.
Equally, the constant gear shifting between comedy and crisis was something else I found a bit difficult. I found myself wondering why I need to have suffering wrapped up in a night of laughter. Would we simply be unable to cope if it was a night exclusively given to crisis? I suppose part of the answer is that we simply wouldn’t watch it. We have to be drawn in by the funny, and then have the pain thrust upon us at intervals, with showbiz stars shedding the occasional tear. And this all sounds very cynical, I suppose, but I’m not trying to be. I’m not saying this is a problem with everyone else, or with you lot. It’s a problem with me. How have I allowed myself to be in a society where suffering has to be sweetened before I will attend to it? Why am I so parochial as to ignore the plight of those I don’t know for the sake of my own comfort and the comfort of those I do know?
Don’t get me wrong. I am thrilled that so much money was raised. I am as thrilled, if not more so, that awareness is raised of the struggles of many in a world that could be made so much more fair. But is that enough?
And as for the ‘rich asking us to help the poor’. I suppose part of the reason I struggle with it is because it’s easier to point the finger elsewhere. I’d rather question their motives than my own. I’d rather sit on my settee thinking, ‘I bet their own generosity could do with a bit of a boost’ than thinking, ‘I need to do more to help.’
I suppose the crux of the matter is that I’d rather sit in comfort questioning whether they’re doing their part, than ask myself whether I’m doing mine.
Feel free to respond.