The concept of charity exists everywhere in our contemporary society. A state's movement, an NGOs proposal, a celebrity's practice, an advertisement we watched, or even a commodity we consumed. It has become a consensus that every civilized citizen should put it into practice, and it is the right thing to do. While the real situation is much more complicated. Inspired by Roland Barthes, I argue that charity is a bourgeois value that has been legitimized by the Western privileged class and has been accepted by the whole society as normal and universal. I will use some views of Julia Kristeva, Mary Douglas, Louis Althusser, and Frantz Fanon to help me deconstruct this prevailing concept.
Charity is defined as giving money, goods, or time to the unfortunate (Marquis & Tilcsik, 2016). Some basic forms are providing necessities like food, water, clothing, and shelter. While some other aids which seem not so pressing are also common in contemporary society such as providing health care and examination, educating children from the under-developed region, support a cancer research, etc.
Abjection feeling toward unfortunate
The impoverished are usually regarded as the proper recipients of charity, for example, beggars, wanderers on the street, or an increasing number of refugees. People have varied feelings toward those people in need. Sad, sympathy, indifference, fear, or disgust. Here I want to focus on the negative and repellent emotion, which I argue is a form of abjection. Kristeva's concept of abjection is utilized commonly to explain popular cultural narratives of horror, and discriminatory behavior manifesting in misogyny, misandry, homophobia, and genocide (Fletcher & Benjamin, 2012). For Kristeva, abjection distinguishes me from others, it threatens me as a subject and threatens the identity we tagged to ourselves. It messes up our understanding of who we should be and what the world should be and threatens the order we follow and believe in. (Kristeva, 1982) First, abject threatens one's identity as well as helps to establish it. Looking at or thinking of those unfortunate, a strong feeling of I am not him has arisen, what is more, I do not want to be him, and connecting myself with them causes an identity crisis. While the abject is also the foundation of establishing one's identity, it corresponds with the identificatory processes, casts off the abject in order to bring oneself into being, and therefore becomes a subject. I constantly realize that I have money, family, a job, a healthy body, and rights, all the elements that make me better interact with society. I am a real citizen who exists in a certain class of society. Second, abject causes the collapse of meaning. We are all humans living on the same planet, while I am enjoying the bright side of it and they are suffering in miserable darkness. It is an anomaly that subverted my imagination and cognition of the world, the meaning I deeply believe in has collapsed. Third,...