Waterford EDIC Soapbox Winners 2015

Europe Direct
Event Information

Date: 18 Dec 2015 until 31 Dec 2015
Time: All Day
Europe Direct Centre: Waterford Library
Location: Event Centre

Event Description

Charity begins  at  home.

Micheala Kerwick 

Winner in the 18 and under category at Waterford EDIC

Chairperson, adjudicators, ladies and gentlemen. Good Morning.

I do believe that charity begins at home, but  I think it is fair to say that it is not always for the right reasons. My reason for thinking this, comes mainly from looking at today’s society.

According to Oxford dictionary, charity is giving voluntarily to those in need. I take this on board completely, but in some cases I wonder, is it really done for the good of others or for the good of oneself?

Take Bono for example, a person who is somewhat glorified in Irish society, who supports 38 different charities and foundations such as The Red Cross. First reaction?  Admiration, but then consider that by using a loophole in the law, Bono manages to avoid much of  his tax burden to our state.

Bono has a net worth of 600 million, an incredible amount of money to you or I. His tax arrangements are perfectly legal, what upsets me is his reluctance to pay his taxes in full to support the upkeep of his own country, while at the same time he remains an advocate for charity.

Isn’t it also interesting that Michael O’Leary, the tough guy of Ryanair, with whom we have a love/ hate relationship, chooses to pay every penny of his taxes in Ireland!

I do not want to paint the picture that all celebrities are hypocrites or bad people. A-List couple Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt hold charity very close to their heart. They currently have 3 adopted children in their lives and it emerged recently that they are planning to adopt a Syrian orphan from the migrant crisis. For them it is clear, that charity really begins at home.

Another very influential figure in our world today is Michelle Obama. Speaking on the topic ‘Charity begins at home’ she said ‘You never forget home, what my girls are learning is that their home gets bigger and bigger and bigger – it is the world.’ This is a very positive message and should be taken on board by us all.

If I step away from the world of celebrities and look at the world on our doorstep, it seems charitable actions that people used to practice in their lives have somewhat vanished. What I mean by this, is that the willingness and helpful spirit in people has vanished.

Years ago, barter was the norm. People helped each other out in whatever way they could. If a house needed to be built or a new baby was born into the community, everybody pulled their resources together to help the families in need. People lived by the old Irish proverb  ‘Ar sc¡th a cheile a mhaireann na daoine’ which translates to,we live in each other’s shadow’  and in other words means that we are dependent on each other. This way of life as I say has diminished.

We live in a world of technology, our high tech existence fools us into believing that we are connected with each other 24/7.

If charity begins at home, as I believe it does, then every act of kindness is important. Actions speak louder than words always, how true for the magnificent Ghandi and I quote, ‘The simplest acts of kindness are by far more powerful than a thousand heads bowing in prayer’.

Thank you.

Charity begins at Home  Margaret Daly

Winner in the 19 and over category at Waterford EDIC

Good morning. My name is Margaret Daly.  I’m from Waterford. I am part of your community.

In 1642 Sir Thomas Browne was the first to put these words into writing. Charity begins at home means distinct things to a wide audience. Individuals down through the years have used the proverb sometimes to express their opinions, others to persuade you and put themselves forward as an authority.  It is growingly being used to propose the need for leaders to take responsibility in areas such as poverty, homelessness, the refuge crisis or for some it is an excuse, an opt out clause.

These four words and their meaning have evolved and in the 21st century where we have 24/7 media coverage, easy access to travel and get the chance to experience a variety of cultural backgrounds it is really is open to individual perceptions and interpretations.

This is a highly emotive phrase that has been used to convince others to make a decision.

Now I’ll tell you what it means to me.

Childhood is important. What we learn at this time will be the basis for how we approach life and the effect we will have on others. Life values learnt at this early stage shape the person we become. Be kind to our siblings, have respect for our parents and grandparents. Be a good friend, be a good listener, you are part of a community, treat all people equally, be fair and go out of your way to help those who are less fortunate than you.

External influences such as teachers, the health services, the Gardai, community groups, all have a duty to be good role models to our young people and demonstrate fairness.

You could say it’s the beginning or the starting point.

Charity is defined as many things, some think it is giving money or giving time to what is perceived as a worthwhile cause. Charity is much more than the giving of money or time. It’s about putting your whole support, your belief, your love and passion into something. There is a satisfaction in giving that a price cannot be put on. Those that have least are often the ones who give most.

What makes a home? The people in it, the togetherness the sharing of a meal around a table, supporting each other, feeling secure, a place to relax, unwind, be yourself and be accepted for it.  If you believe in equality then everyone is entitled to a home and to experience that feeling of security. Security is a basic human right that should not be denied to anyone.

People telling us we have to look after our homeless before we take responsibility for refugees are not choosing to see that the world is home and acts of kindness are need everywhere, if we as a people are to continue to grow and remain humane. All cultures need to embrace all people.  We can’t allow ourselves to think we have done our bit until we have given others the opportunities we have benefited from. Each of us has a moral obligation to our fellow man. Remember when we express solidarity we acknowledge that the world is home.

I truly believe from everything I have learnt over my years that the proverb phrase was never meant to allow us to sit idly by while others suffer but rather as a guide to help us to do the right thing as we go through life. As Thomas Fuller said ‘Charity begins at home but it shouldn’t stop there’.

Thank you