Why It Can Be a Challenge to “Do Good”

Why It Can Be a Challenge to “Do Good”

Having experienced domestic violence myself (I won’t go into it in this piece, it is something I will leave for my memoir) and previously working for a not-for-profit organisation working with some of the most disadvantaged groups in society, I know the fears that people face in deciding to escape an abusive home. In these circumstances where people are scared, have limited financial resources, are vulnerable and/or have children, escaping can seem an overwhelming prospect. But it is a necessary decision to remove one’s self from emotional and physical harm’s way. The health, well-being and safety of an individual (and any children involved) always come first.

Why it can be a challenge doing good
Children and their innocence should always be protected.

So this morning when I read the Collective Evolution Facebook post about an inspiring moving company helping women and men leave abusive homes free of charge, one comment caught my eye and caused me to not only to raise an eyebrow, but to question humanity altogether. Amongst all the comments of praise, Keenan Mei wrote: “What’s the catch? There’s ALWAYS a catch!” At the time of writing this piece, the Facebook post has garnered more than 2,800 likes, 1,725 shares and 79 comments. This feel good news embraced by the public had one annoying ‘hater’ rear its ugly head.

The rise and rise of the internet troll.

Why is it that when a business embraces ethics, social responsibility and sustainability, people are quick to jump down its throat and question its integrity? I am as much to blame as the rest as I am keenly aware of my own shortcomings, particularly my public skepticism of brands such as H&M with its alternative fashion line: “Conscious Collection.”

What I’m merely wondering is why we as a society have gotten so weary of business intentions, we paint all business owners as Gordon Gecko types? Have we become so cynical we automatically seek to find fault in people and businesses, falsely assuming that ethical values really don’t exist in the business world? Is it that capitalism and its priority of profit has made us prejudiced to the idea of goodness co-existing in an ‘evil’ business system?

Clearly, society has become so disenchanted that a “mindful” business not only brings doubt, but a trove of internet trolls as well. Often disguised as critical thinking, trolls sit on laptops and iPhones hanging on to their skepticism, proud of their ability to throw fiery darts and avoid perceived brainwashing. At least, that’s what it feels like to me when I succumb to pomposity.

About that Joseph Kony film that went viral. 

Years ago when Invisible Children, an American charity created and distributed a 28-minute film about kidnappings of countless children in Africa (to either fight or become sex slaves, or for those who resisted, killed) for Ugandan warlord Joseph Kony, the video went viral with almost 101 million views on YouTube. But the charity faced heavy criticism for simplifying what some saw as an extremely complex issue. Others focussed on the ‘tacky’ Hollywood style clip and the poor handling of charity finance. This blog post summed up many of the concerns.

 

If you haven’t watched the video or need reminding of its contents, you can view it below:

When the video went viral, one of my acquaintances on Facebook lauded the film, questioning the good intentions of the filmmakers and that they were all doing it “for money”. This coming from a woman I had met working at one of the biggest non-banking financial institutions in Australia. A touch hypocritical I thought. So I felt compelled to jump in and intercept the Invisible Children bashing on her Facebook wall (I am an Enneagram Type 8, I couldn’t resist..!).

I asked her why people who do good things shouldn’t get paid for the work they do. I asked why people undertaking humanity projects are expected to just volunteer their time. I asked why this humanitarian work shouldn’t come with a financial reward or incentive. I pointed out that people like myself who worked at not-for-profits (at the time I actually did) also have bills to pay. I pointed out that people cannot financially survive on good heartedness and kindness alone. Although she didn’t come back with any great rebuttals (as I expected), my rhetorical questions helped to quell the charity hating on her wall (as I expected).

Last time I checked she’s now working for a not-for-profit. It’s taken all my strength not to comment on it, and ask: “So… how do you feel about all this now?”

Have you or your business stood for something only to have your good intentions questioned? Did the experience make you re-think being generous or kindhearted? Would love to hear your stories so please feel free to share.

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