An interesting item turned up in a recent Advocate. I had to re-read it to understand that it was serious. This was a Rye and Cigar Tasting, touted as a Rotary Club fundraiser for several local charities. I took the time to ascertain that the cigar smoking would take place outdoors at the non-smoking public venue; and that transportation would be available for those who enjoyed tasting the rye a bit too much.
Make no mistake — I fully support the Rotary organization, and admire the many worthwhile projects they work on for the benefit of everyone. I just feel strongly that this particular project misses the point, in today’s realities.
The image arose in my mind of a group of well-heeled self-made “community leaders” schmoozing, in a cloud of cigar smoke, elegant drinks in hand, all feeling very pleased to participate in some worthy charitable causes — and still stay within their own social milieu.
The second image involved the presentation of a cheque for the proceeds of this event, to recipients from the aforesaid charities. Perhaps some well-scrubbed children, coached to smile with awe and gratitude at their benefactors? What a great photo-op! “See, kids, work hard, make the ‘right’ connections, and you too can grow up to wear nice suits, smoke good cigars, drink the best booze, and be seen at public charity fundraisers.” A win/win situation!
But is it? Does spending money on smokes (no matter how classy) and drinks (no matter how upscale) truly assist people in our community in need of a hand up, and genuine acceptance in society?
Does this represent an ethical standard to uphold as to how we relate to those in less fortunate circumstances, when we meet them?
Or does this type of event perpetuate the social structures that separate the “haves” from the so-called “have-nots” in the public eye; and justify maintaining the current status quo?