Giving wisely and well to those in need, which includes giving them the benefit of the doubt.

a.k.a. dāna

Charity isn’t just a matter of money, but also about thinking the best of others, giving them the benefit of the doubt, etc. It’s the breath of kindness George Eliot mentions here: “A friend is one to whom one may pour out the contents of one’s heart, chaff and grain together, knowing that gentle hands will take and sift it, keep what is worth keeping, and with a breath of kindness, blow the rest away.”

Complementary virtues

Contrasting vices

  • contrariness
  • miserliness
  • niggardliness
  • prejudice
  • an unwise excess of charity is one variety of prodigality
  • being a skinflint
  • stinginess
  • tight-fistedness
  • being uncharitable

Virtues possibly in tension

How to acquire or strengthen it


Notes and links

Mentioned elsewhere

Inspirational quotes

  • “Do not inquire whether the man whom you can relieve, has been the cause of his own misfortunes. Who would be found entirely innocent of the sufferings under which he groans, were we always to inquire minutely after their causes?” ―Baron Knigge
  • “Clarity is needed, as well as charity, however difficult this may be to imagine, much less sustain, toward the other side. Perhaps the worst thing that can be said about social indignation is that it so frequently leads to the death of personal humility. Once that has happened, one has ceased to live in that world of men which one is striving so mightily to make over. One has entered into a dialogue with that terrifying deity, sometimes called History, previously, and perhaps again, to be referred to as God, to which no sacrifice in human suffering is too great.”―James Baldwin, 1956
  • “I have had occasion to meet with, in convents for instance, literally saintly examples of practical charity, they have generally had the brisk, decided, undisturbed and slightly brutal air of a busy surgeon, the face in which one can discern no commiseration, no tenderness at the sight of suffering humanity, and no fear of hurting it, the face devoid of gentleness or sympathy, the sublime face of true goodness.”―Marcel Proust