First off, let me say that humanitarianism is always honorable. Taking time out of one's busy schedule to donate energy and resources to the less fortunate is something to be proud of. But I want to focus on people's motivations.
Ron needs to fix his image badly.
When someone does something nice for humankind — whether it's volunteering at a homeless shelter, providing African relief or handing someone their wallet they just dropped on the sidewalk — there's always a motivation.
Some people do it out of the goodness of their heart. They feel that doing something good for their fellow man is just something they were made to do. They feel that everyone should think this way, and are often dismayed when they see others pass up opportunities to help.
Some people do it because it makes them feel good inside. Maybe deep down, they would have loved to have kept that wallet that fell on the ground in front of them, but the reward of the money outweighed the overall warm-fuzzy feeling they got from making someone else happy. Maybe they would have preferred to have their Saturday morning to themselves, but they went to volunteer at the children's hospital instead because the happiness they brought to the kids made them feel good about themselves.
Then, there is a third kind. We'll call these kinds of people "Me Humanitarians."
Me Humanitarians are usually in the public eye. Politicians, celebrities and athletes comprise this group for the majority. Their motivation is to be seen doing good things. They have the means to help, and they do. But they do it from a completely different motivation than the first two on the list. Most of the time, these people do good services to maintain an image. They are seen as good guys, and they want to keep it this way. It might earn them votes (politicians), endorsement opportunities (athletes) or higher-level celebrity status. Then there are those who perform good acts in an attempt to repair their image.
Enter Mr. Ron Artest.
With a practical laundry list of idiotic and criminal actions from his past, Ron Artest has figured it's finally time to go straight. After the NBA announced that Artest and former knucklehead teammate Stephen Jackson would each be suspended for seven games because of their respective criminal transgressions, Artest was a day late in publicly responding because he is on a relief mission in Kenya.
Don't pin me as labeling what Artest is doing as some kind of despicable act. Obviously humanitarian work of any kind is a positive thing. But my caution to the fans of the world is to keep your opinions of Ron Artest intact. Instead of looking at the actions that people take, always look at the motivations behind them, lest we be fooled into thinking Artest is actually turning over a new leaf. He's done some community outreach activities in the past, so this new brand of good guy persona isn't entirely brand new.
Let's give him a year. If he's still walking the line, then I'll reconsider. For now? Don't expect me to go drafting him early in my fantasy draft this year. It's all just posturing.