“Yes, I could give that society money to help feed and educate a child in some third world armpit of a country, but really. Is it a quality life? I think not.”
And with that statement and a wave of her gloved hand, the thought was dismissed and she reached for her wine glass. Let’s call her Jane. Everyone at the table laughed or at least smiled. I detested them all for being so spineless but I said nothing, so I’m no better.
Down deep, I consider if maybe Jane is more honest about it than I am. I mean, I hate it when one of those commercials with Sara Mclaughlin comes on TV, showing animals that have been victimized by cruelty. The faces of puppies, kittens, dogs and cats, maybe missing an eye or ear, staring up sadly at the camera. It’s heartbreaking but that’s not the worst part. It is manipulative to emotionally hijack me while I watch Big Bang Theory. I resent it.
Of course, I appreciate the SPCA program to end animal cruelty. Who doesn’t want to end sadistic treatment that results in physical and emotional damage to another living thing? Or who doesn’t want children in an underprivileged country to have opportunities? Each time I see one of these commercials for the children in Nicaragua or the Make a Wish foundation, my heart breaks a little more.
It’s the goal of such commercials to make you feel badly for others who are in a worse situation than you. A transparent ploy, to be sure – give us money and you can ease your conscious of the inhumanity that exists in the world. Do I want to be this guy: Yeah, I know things are bad but I’m giving my seventy-five cents a day to feed a kid in some third world country. What more can I do?
Somehow, if I donate $20 a month to a promoted charity, it is supposed to make a difference. Consider how much is left after the cost of the ‘free’ t-shirt they send me and the marketers they hired to advertise, phone, print, and mail notifications and payment reminders to me. I really do wonder how much of the money is left over for the purpose of the charity after all the overhead. Don’t fool yourself – there are people are making a hefty profit from non-profit organizations.
So I’ve decided to try to unjack my karma a bit and I will not let the emotional blackmail and resentment for some non-profit organizations taint my opinion of charities to the point I become like Jane. I’m not saying we should all watch the depressing commercials, but I will not forget there are others who will die if they don’t get assistance from someone. I can’t adopt all the orphans. I can’t cure cancer or feed the children of Africa or neuter all the dogs, but I can help… I can do something.
In my search for a charity to affiliate myself with, I looked at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. I’m not saying they are better than other charities, but I looked at their site and their programs and I liked how forward thinking they are. I also liked that they didn’t waste funds promoting or soliciting with pseudo-gifts of t-shirts, cards, stickers or whatever. It was with some amazement that I realized they aren’t raising funds. This organization is funded entirely by the massive wealth of Bill Gates. They also post their financials so that all could see and the amount donated annually was staggering. Then I noticed just how active the Gates’ are in the organization and I’m again humbled. It wasn’t just the money they were giving. Bill and Melinda Gates are true philanthropists.
So now I’m in pause. There are so many non-profit organizations and so many worthwhile causes, I want to donate but I don’t want to give my money to foundations that will just squander it on mass-mailings and “free” t-shirts and stamps and whatever. Just having a worthwhile cause doesn’t make the charity worthwhile if they don’t use the funds wisely. What to do?
I found a local no-kill animal shelter. They do good work and I know they aren’t profiting from it. They are volunteer-based and rescue adoptable animals from kill-shelters, giving them medical attention, food and love until a forever home is found, regardless of however long that may be. Every time I go in the Petco and see these rescued animals, I am so moved to adopt but we already have two dogs and well… my better half reminds me that two is enough. Don’t misunderstand, she loves animals. I could break her will if I really tried but that would make me as manipulative as those commercials I hate.
So what am I trying to say?
I’ve got to do something to help make the lives of others better. I have to be realistic about what I can and can’t do, because there is so much more need than any one person can fill and I don’t want to encourage companies that profit from charity. I think I’ve made a good choice. Yes, I’ll admit it’s an easy way out to donate mere money to causes rather than give my time, effort and talent. Maybe I’ll do more at some point than just give money but it’s a start.
It’s a start and had nothing to do with guilt-inducing commercials. Jumbo-Activists will rail me for my passive and low goals. So be it. There will always be such people. You know them – the vegetarian who condemns others who eat meat or the running-nut who can’t understand why everyone just doesn’t get up an hour early to jog every morning.
For me, it’s a start and I’m not doing it to make me feel better or because somebody made me feel guilty. That just seems right to me.
What do you think?