CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Sunday, 1 September 2019

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Caritas Bazaars a season for the common good

HONG KONG (SE): November is traditionally the month of the Caritas Bazaar Season in Hong Kong, Kowloon, Cheung Chau and the New Territories.
For three consecutive Sundays beginning at Fa Hui Park in Kowloon, thousands of people will give of their time, sweat and expertise in putting together a variety of stalls and entertainment areas for the tens of thousands who will come to search out a bargain, enjoy the atmosphere or just splurge a bit on a good cause.
With stalls presented by parishes, schools and some corporate enterprises, preparation has been going on for a long time. Collecting of items for sale and putting together the logistics needed for a major scale production all require generosity and commitment.
And the bazaars receive wide support. They are advertised on donated billboard space and at least one major banking outlet displays a donation box for Caritas, as well as selling tickets for the popular Caritas Raffle with its highly desirable donated prizes.
The bazaars are an important event in the life of a pluralistic city like Hong Kong, as the one thing that has been learned clearly over the decades is that the two major institutions of a state, the government and the private or business sectors, cannot take care of community problems.
The Caritas Bazaar Season is a highly visible demonstration of the power and workings of the much-needed third institution in society, the social sector.
It, along with other mostly not-for-profit enterprises, fills an extremely important gap, as it not only offers care fore those who tend to get left out of the government social service loop, but provides a visible witness that for a pluralist society to remain healthy, caring for the common good is everyone’s responsibility.
While the many social services that Caritas offers as a non-profit outlet do not differ greatly from similar ones under a government or a for-profit wing, what the bazaars provide is an invitation to get your hands dirty and contribute directly to keeping society healthy.
The need of the modern pluralist society is for leadership beyond the walls, as a conglomerate of enterprises operating purely and simply for its own benefit without consideration for the consequences of its actions on the well-being of others is a recipe for the chaos that has destroyed the pluralistic societies of the past.
Single interest enterprises or groups tend to dominate both business and politics, which by definition means subordinating the common good to their own growth in prestige and power.
But the recipe for creating a healthy society requires institutional leaders to take on a civic responsibility over and above their own interests, or in other words, give back to the community while at the same time pursuing their own goals.
But everyone is an enterprise in their own way, some may be big and others small, but the call to community embraces individual, family, leisure groups and interest organisations, as well as small businesses and corporations to go beyond their own pursuits by contributing something to the common good at the same time.
Working behind the counter at a bazaar, spending a bit, donating items for sale or taking the trouble to get there are all contributions and, as even recipients of Caritas services find, there is no one who is not able to contribute at least a little bit.
Anyone can contribute and everyone benefits.

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