Decency to the stranger hasn’t gone out of fashion

On the one hand, many of us are compassionate:

A third of the world’s population has given money to charity in the past month, the largest study ever carried out into global social conscience reveals today.

The “World Giving Index” used Gallup surveys of 195,000 people in 153 nations and asked people whether they had volunteered or given money or help in the last month. It also asked respondents to rank how happy they are with life.

It found that a fifth of the world’s population had volunteered, almost a third had given money to charity, and 45% had been “good samaritans” and helped a stranger.

The UK came eighth on the index overall and finished joint third, alongside Thailand, in terms of giving money, with 73% of the population having donated to charity. However Australia, New Zealand and the United States were far more charitable overall. In Europe, only Switzerland and Holland fared better than Britain.

Rich countries dominated the top positions – yet around half of the top 20 places were taken up by developing nations including Guinea, Guyana and Turkmenistan. Strikingly, India ranked at 134 and China at 147 – with Chinese people among the least likely on the planet to volunteer. Only 4% said they had done.

And yet here in Australia, demonising asylum seekers has become a national sport. What kind of country do we want to be?

Text and images ©2024 Antony Loewenstein. All rights reserved.

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