If you're a regular reader of the Charity site, you already know that I am a huge fan of the movie, "The Blind Side." I saw it last year when it was in the movie theatres, and I commented then on how surprised I was that a "feel good" movie was not only making huge money but ended up winning awards. Now the movie has hit cable television and the DVD shelves and I can't help but think yet again about the tremendous charitable message this movie portrays.
What I loved the most about this movie is the “charity at all costs” theme it sports throughout. Leigh Anne Touhy, the character played by Sandra Bullock, is an extremely wealthy woman who lives with all the trappings of wealth that she can afford. In an effort to do the right thing, she takes in Michael Oher, a homeless boy, for what was supposed to be one night. In the end, Touhy and her family come to love Oher, make him a part of their family, and share their wealth and privilege with him.
Many times throughout the story, Touhy and her family realize that others find this level of generosity difficult to comprehend. Writing a check is one thing – taking in a stranger and accepting him as your own is quite another. In my experience with various charity projects, most donors want to be hands-on. What I appreciated most about the story is how the Touhy family learned to turn a blind eye to those who would pass judgment on them for their charitable actions.
For instance, when Leigh Ann Touhy’s group of wealthy friends question her decision to take Oher in over the safety of her own family, Touhy admonishes them. She is quite willing to disregard their friendship if they cannot be more understanding.
Touhy’s daughter, Collins, about the same age of Oher, casts off the teasing she gets from her high school clique. In one scene, she leaves her friends to join Oher at a table in the library, where he was sitting alone. She simply does not care how her friends judge her. Rather, she makes a decision to prove to others that doing the right thing is more important than friendship.
Finally, Oher himself is forced to prove that the Touhy’s charity toward him was not improper. When an investigator from the National Collegiate Athletic Association accuses the Touhys of taking Oher in simply to convince him to play college football for their alma mater, Oher reacts. “This is my family,” he tells the investigator. And the audience truly believes that Oher and the Touhys consider themselves family – mother and son, sister and brother, like any other family.
Why is it so hard for people to understand it when someone gives so generously? I think it could be that many people don’t want to accept that they, too, share some responsibility to help those in need.
In a recent interview, Touhy said, "My challenge to people is, ‘Turn around. Look to your left. Look to your right.’ That quickly, there can be somebody under your nose that needs your help and even the smallest bit of kindness — not necessarily bringing them into your home and adopting them, but you know, give a coat to a shelter, and take it yourself. You will get immense satisfaction out of seeing what it does for someone else."
We all do not have to give as much as the Touhys gave. Clearly, very few people have the means to do so. However, most people can certainly find a little something – some money, some time – to help those less fortunate. Giving just a little feels so good that you may decide to give more.
And in the end, if you can turn a blind eye to those who do not understand your charitable heart, you might become an inspiration, just like the Touhys.
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