Marketing Compassion

Marketing Compassion

Here's a video of a short film that won some awards at the Cannes Film Festival this year. Although I think it is well done and stirs up some emotions and thoughts, there's also something unsettling about it for me. It's only a few minutes long, so watch it first, then come back and read my thoughts because I don't want to give anything away: For me this film begs the question: "Is charity stimulated by compassion or good marketing?" I wonder if it could be both. Some might argue that it was the good marketing... the same thing said with different words... meaning: more evocative, emotional, gripping, attractive, positive, motivational. It's not enough, it seems, that there are people who are blind, starving, dying of treatable diseases, poor, or suffering in any way all over the world, right at our feet, before our very eyes. This isn't enough to evoke compassion and charity in us. This isn't enough to awaken hospitality and generosity among us. It takes a handsome rich man in a suit with marketing skills to entice the money out of us. The rich man himself didn't give any money. But he did provide a marketing tip and he didn't charge the blind man for it. I realize the blind man got what he needed. That's obviously a good thing. The issue that disturbs me though is not that he got it, but what it took for us to give it. That, for me, is the crucial and burning issue as a pastor of a community of people with money. How do we give? What motivates us to give? What inspires us to be generous? What are the underlying issues we have with money that we aren't free to give it away without some kind of poignant provocation? These are the questions that provoke me. But perhaps you might accuse me of being in the same predicament as the blind man: this is beautiful, and I'm too blind to enjoy it.

Leave a comment