There are twenty million people in the old Imperial India currently displaced by floods. They’re without food, shelter or water, in dire straits. Yet I feel no human impulse to donate money to them. Why should I? Out of empathy? The imperative simply isn’t there, or I’d already be doing it. My brain occasionally says “karma”, drags up that Christian “give & thou shalt receive”, but without an overseeing God I don’t believe in any such ordered universe, nor do I believe gratefulness transmits across such numbers or distances. Even if it were true that the people of India were grateful to the people of Britain and we one day needed their help, it’s still easy to bandwagon. I could pour my paltry contribution into the million needy mouths of charity, without it making a dint, without hearing even the echo of it hitting the distant bottom. There is no end to man’s need, and a simple end to my own. Perhaps I should just pour my excess to a particular sponsor, somewhere I can see the effect, somewhere I can be the recipient of justified gratefulness. This thinking is the way that patronage works, I think, the way the romans did charity – cynical, sceptical, greedy.
Hmm. Anyone need a patron?