Updated: Jul 2, 2019
Thinking about charity you probably already have an ingrained bias that translates into "giving" and giving means contributing money. You have it all wrong.
Breaking the word down into its most miniscule elements indicates it comes from a variety of words which mean love of others, the Greek word agape, in fact, means "love" of others. Money or giving was never specifically inherent in the translations;
as we find in the Japanese language, it is understood rather than spelled out how we should interpret the word. But we have been raised to see it as giving in some form; primarily money or goods or even meals. All wonderful charitable things to do.
Charity can also be expressed, however, in one form that we
usually don't associate with it; saving a life. I don't mean giving an organ for someone who's dying and needs a transplant. In fact, I don't think charity should be the exclusive domain of the human. Recently, we had an example of how charitable actions should be expanded and it didn't always meet with agreement.
The wildfires in California have ravaged more miles of acreage than anyone in their wildest dreams thought possible. Fleeing for their lives with, often, only the clothes on their backs, the stories told of lives lost, family histories, families trying to see some hope for their futures.
In the midst of all this terror, one man stopped to save a wild rabbit from the flames (actually he saved a white one and a black one--two) and for it he did not get rousing cheers for his charity. In fact, he was the target of criticism rather than appreciation. A wild animal's life wasn't worth his effort. Some called him "an idiot" for his actions.
Life isn't valued unless it's human? Is that showing our spirit of charity and our care for all things living, whether in the wild or in our homes? Did people not risk their lives to save their dogs, cats
and horses? Wasn't one woman horse trainer burned seriously when she tried to save horses? Was she doing it only because they were valuable property or because she valued the animals and their lives? Do we save horses but not other animals, unless they're house pets?
I saw the frantic tweets on Twitter where people were setting up safe places for horses and house pets. I suppose if someone brought in a fawn or other wild animal they might have accepted it, but did anyone do this? No, I'm not saying human life isn't valuable and that, even when we can, we shouldn't try to rescue an animal in need. Saying "when we can" doesn't mean stopping in an inferno and placing our life at risk, but what about when the risk isn't that intense? Should we just pass an injured or disoriented animal by and be done with it?
Full disclosure: I love animals and we've always had animals in our family. Members of my extended family are involved in animal rescue work. I know we'd try to rescue any animal we could.
I've picked up an injured Canada goose, 3 sparrow chicks, baby bluejay, an exhausted cedar waxwing, box turtle that kept trying to bite me and even sea snails and sea pork to bring them to safety. The goose wasn't taken in so willingly, but they did take it. The bluejay was cheerfully placed in a large enclosure with other orphans at an avian rehab center as was the waxwing.
I commend the young man for his bravery and his charity. His actions are not those of the foolish, but one who understands the true meaning of charity and how it doesn't begin and end with money or physical things. It encompasses much more than that. Charity is life in all its iterations.