The instant expert: Let's be charitable

The many permutations of the word 'charity'.

THE BASICS Charity is, of course, the practice of benevolent giving and caring, or an organisation dedicated to such. It is a principle of the Islamic, Christian and Jewish faiths. As a virtue, it is akin to altruism, or selfless concern for the well-being of others. But it is also many other things, as the Instant Expert well knows.

TWIN RETREATS There are two islands named Charity, one in the US and the other off the coastline of Tasmania in Australia. The first is the largest island in Saginaw Bay, in the Michigan waters of Lake Huron. It is about 1 square kilometre in area and has almost 5km of shoreline. In south-eastern Australia, Charity Island is an islet of about the same size in the Partridge Island Group. Its neighbouring islets are, charmingly, named Faith and Hope.

SHIP AHOY HMS Charity was a C-class destroyer of the Royal Navy commissioned on November 19, 1945. It saw service in the Korean War, and was sold to the US Navy in 1958, for transfer to the Pakistan navy as a part of a foreign aid programme. It had the tar knocked out of her by Indian navy missile boats during the 1971 Indo-Pakistan war, and had to be scrapped.

SECOND TIME A CHARM Charity was a racehorse who beat 10 rivals to win the 1841 Grand National at the second try (she fell twice in the 1839 race). William Vevers trained her and William Craven, 2nd Earl of Craven owned her.

GEEK ALERT Charity is a computer programming language being developed by the Charity Development Group in the Department of Computer Science at the University of Calgary, Alberta, Canada. According to its website, it is "pure" and "supports lazy evaluation", not unlike the Instant Expert himself.

CURTAIN CALL ONE Charity is a four-act play by W S Gilbert that premiered on January 3, 1874, at the Haymarket Theatre in London. It challenged the double standards in the Victorian era concerning the treatment of men and women who broke the marriage vow of fidelity. Audiences and critics denounced it as immoral.

CURTAIN CALL TWO Sweet Charity is a musical with music by Cy Coleman, lyrics by Dorothy Fields, book by Neil Simon and choreography by Bob Fosse. It is based on Federico Fellini's screenplay for Nights of Cabiria. The musical, starring Gwen Verdon, opened on Broadway in 1966, where it was nominated for 12 Tony Awards. It also ran in the West End, and has enjoyed several revivals. It was adapted for the screen in 1969 with Shirley MacLaine as Charity. Fosse directed and choreographed.

OUTRAGEOUS Charity is a song by the Britrock band Skunk Anansie that embraces heavy metal and black feminist rage. It was released as the band's third single in July 1995, and re-released in April 1996. The original reached No. 40 on the UK singles chart, and the re-release No. 20. The chorus from the lyrics: "But I don't want your charity twisting me round / I don't want your charity keeping me down." Rage it is.

NAME GAME Charity is an English feminine given name. The ancient Romans used an earlier form of the name, Caritas. Saint Charity was an early Christian child martyr who was tortured to death with her sisters, Faith and Hope.

LET'S BE RATIONAL Charity is a principle in philosophy and rhetoric. It mandates listeners to interpret a speaker's statements as rational. According to Simon Blackburn in The Oxford Dictionary of Philosophy, "it constrains the interpreter to maximise the truth or rationality in the subject's sayings."

THE DISSENTING OPINION None is permitted. That would be uncharitable.


Four notable UAE charities

HUMAN APPEAL INTERNATIONAL Works worldwide to support the needy, especially orphans, through comprehensive, sustainable development. Responds to natural disasters and social calamities.

INTERNATIONAL HUMANITARIAN CITY Aims to establish Dubai as a hub for global humanitarian aid. Acts as both operational platform and physical and virtual meeting place for nonprofit companies, donors, volunteers, governments and others.

RED CRESCENT SOCIETY OF THE UNITED ARAB EMIRATES National, humanitarian and voluntary authority that provides aid and assistance to the vulnerable without discrimination as to nationality, race, gender, colour, religious, political or ideological beliefs.

THE ZAYED BIN SULTAN AL NAHYAN CHARITABLE AND HUMANITARIAN ORGANISATION Founded by the founding president of the UAE. Especially aids sick people in need, notably those suffering from chronic and incurable diseases or those who need surgery. Also sets up and supports mosques and Islamic cultural centres, schools and institutes of general and higher education, hospitals, clinics, rehabilitation centres, etc.

Published: August 3, 2011 04:00 AM


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