Coffee, cake and charity?

Coffee, cake and charity

By Vanessa McHardy, MA Integrative Child Psychotherapist and Neil Gamble, Chairman and Director of Companies and Retired CEO.

Can we have our cake and eat it? And at what cost to our health, and the health budgets of our governments?

There is a cancer patient support charity that raises funds by asking people around the world to take part in annual coffee mornings. Their slogans for these events are ‘Cake tastes better together’ and ‘You can have your cake and eat it’.

Another campaign, ‘Go Sober for October’, seeks to raise money on the back of the efforts of those who give grog away for 31 days. That leaves 334 days when, by implication, it is OK to drink alcohol – a carcinogenic substance that has close correlation to at least six cancers.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) confirms that lifestyle choices contribute to 80% of cancers. In one way this statistic is encouraging as it shows our health is in our hands – that it is a matter of choice, and that we have everything to gain when we make healthier, self-loving choices. If we accept that there is a direct correlation between sugar and cancer, it would make sense to eliminate sugar and sugar-rich foods, such as cake, from our diets to reduce the risk of developing cancer.

So are we not making the very lifestyle choices that are part of the problem, part of charity fundraising itself? What exactly is going on here?

Does the slogan ‘Cake tastes better together’ demonstrate not only that we love the comfort cake and sugar provide, but we love it en masse, in a form of perverted brotherhood – I will if you will – so to speak? And we love to live by atrophied adages such as ‘A little of what you fancy won’t hurt you’ and ‘Everything in moderation’ and ‘Life’s too short’…

But in using such justifications we are giving ourselves license to make it OK to disregard and carry out constant assaults on our bodies.

Yet our bodies are living proof that most of us are having a lot of what we should not be having.

Dr Mercola, a well-known American physician trained in traditional and natural medicine, recently stated that “…about HALF of all American adults are either pre-diabetic or diabetic” – a statistic that is matched by the British people, 50% of whom are also pre-diabetic. Such is the legacy of this generation. Furthermore, he emphatically states this recent, exponential growth makes it clear it cannot be a genetic problem. It must be about our lifestyles and choices.

The attestation of the maltreatment of our bodies is more than evident in our continually increasing waistlines, our heart attacks and heart diseases, as well as the sky-rocketing diabetes and cancer statistics, to name but a few contemporary, man-made diseases.

Even the percentage of young children chronically ill or obese is on the rise. The consumption of sugar in children’s diets seems to be the most common reason for a child to be put under anaesthetic for the removal of teeth.

Jamie Oliver’s documentary, ‘Sugar Rush’ quoted some alarming statistics. In the UK alone, 170 people per week are losing a limb due to diet related diabetes! Every surgeon he spoke to said that we were at red alert – not in 2, 8, 10 or 20 years’ time – but today. Humanity is at a health crisis point.

Although well overdue, it would seem that the time has finally arrived for us to take responsibility for our health. Taking care of our own health does not mean we miss out on anything, but rather that we take on a greater quality of life instead – a way of living that we have always been designed to live.

Knowing this, our charities need to seriously reconsider their fundraising strategies and what they serve up, quite literally, on the tables of their stakeholders.

Or do these charities in fact exist for some purpose other than health promotion or awareness raising or support or research? Either there is a lack of clarity preventing some cancer prevention charities from realising the contradictions inherent in their choice of fundraising activities, or there is a wilful blindness in operation that suggests there is another picture – self-interest – at play.

Self-interest can look like using an organisation for personal gain (financial, political, reputational or to secure a seat in heaven), ‘being seen’ to be doing good but not truly changing anything, and making charitable work all about the recognition or reward received for that being seen to be doing good – factors that apply equally to those directing, managing, working or volunteering in charitable organisations as it does to us as members of the public donating to or supporting a cause.

Increasingly the medical profession is starting to get serious about the need for us to exercise more loving choices and a greater understanding of the way the human body needs care and nourishment. It seems our cancer and other like charities need to do same.

And so do we. We need to ask ourselves if, as participants in cake and coffee events, we are using the cause to justify our consumption of substances we know harm rather than heal.

So before we donate to or participate in a fundraising event, let’s look under the bonnet at the responsibility – or otherwise – of the directors, officers and management of the charity and the choices those boards and executives have made and ask whether their campaigns are congruent with their cause. And let’s examine our own motives. If we do both these things, we might find we’re less inclined to take part.

This article appears with the kind permission of its authors and Unimed Living, where it was originally published. The image is also courtesy of Unimed Living.

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