If Luis Bunuel’s Viridiana makes one salient point about individual charity (and it does!), it is in the observation that no matter what claims of humility are made, many people enact individual charity for selfish reasons. See the billionaire philanthropists are are spending just as much as they think will keep them out of the guillotine. Or just the fact that charity like that doesn’t work so well. Still I’ve met — or have been — young people who forgo established infrastructure in order to be a personal savior. People want to be known as the person who fixed a problem much more than they want to establish social policy that would eliminate the problem. Look at the Pro-Life movement: you get a lot of political currency from Pro-Lifers for saying you’re going to outlaw abortion — whoever does it will probably be US president for life — but no one involved seems to want to enact the social policy changes that would severely truncate the cause of abortion. “People are inconsistent” is hardly news, but maybe we could at least try to be better at working together to raise every person up?
We talk charity and social change on this week’s Lost in Criterion with Luis Bunuel’s Viridiana. Listen at LostInCriterion.com, on iTunes or Spotify, or wherever you like to find podcasts. and while you're at it, like us on Facebook or support us on Patreon.