12.19.2007

'Tis The Season For "Please Forward Your Generous Contribution To..."

It seems as though this time of year, my snail mailbox and e-mail box are overflowing with "please send us some of your cash for our cause". Those jolly folks in santa hats ringing the bells by the red buckets get on my nerves as it is some days. They hit you at every store entrance. That's enough for me. That being said, I don't need to be asked for cash when I'm in the privacy of my own home. But something happens when you decide to send a bit of cash to one well-known charity. The rest of the bigger charities receive word somehow that "this person gives money" and therefore, sends you their marketing literature with sad looking faces.

Not that I'm cold-hearted. Far from it. Their literature works in that I cannot look at it without feeling my heart cry out at the unnecessary and needless suffering of so many living creatures, both of the human and non-human kind. You know those Christian Children's Fund commercials? I don't think I've made it through one without weeping. I once sponsored a child for a couple of years. I then got side-tracked with the human society and save the whales folks.

Apparently what I need to do is find a cause I believe in the most and support that one and that one only.

I've never really been all that disciplined and therefore successful, though, at making up my mind.

However, all of this makes me realize how lucky I am. Or maybe luck has nothing to do with it. Perhaps grateful is a better word. My life could be so much worse. Abused animals in need of homes. Hungry children in need of food. Homeless parents wondering where they and their children will sleep tonight. People with AIDS in need of medication. Polar Bears in desperate need of protection. On and on and on. Today I was struck by this as I went to fill a prescription. Having had a root canal, I was not in the best of moods. I passed right by the bell ringer without making any eye contact. However, on the way out, I couldn't ignore for the second time her enthusiastic holiday greeting. So as I reached into my purse for some change, I glanced up at her and smiled. She smiled back, showing a row of teeth in need of repair, a couple of them missing.

Wow.

If that isn't an example of someone in need of charity, I don't know what is. It seemed ironic to me that here this big company, The Salvation Army, has hired someone to seek funding for them and who, herself, is in obvious need of some sort of help.

As I sit here thinking about this, I wish I had written her a personal check. Even though my dental expenses are coming out of my (our) pocket, I'm just very thankful that right now, we have the ability to pay for it. If this had happened just 6 months ago, we wouldn't had the money.

Been there, done that. And I know that "that" is the way it is for billions, right now, this very day, this very moment. Maybe a new trend is needed. Spending for the holidays will come to a temporary end while those billions are instead spent on those in need, doing so until everyone and everything is safe and protected.

2 comments:

tkn said...

I've been getting annoyed with being asked to donate at the check out at Safeway and Hollywood video. I don't think its right for cashiers to ask you to donate. Its not that I don't support breast cancer research, I don't think I should be guilt tripped everytime I buy something from Safeway. I'm sure Safeway considers it part of their PR campaign.

I've been feeling really Scroogish until last night when I heard this program called Tinseltown on the radio last night. It was very moving, despite also being somewhat syrupy. It was all the toy drive crap on the news. I didn't get how giving kids toys at Christmas was anything more than a very tiny band aid for a colossal problem, namely poverty. I want to tell all these feel good toy donaters to do something real to alleviate poverty, like re-examining the consumerist lifestyle that so many of us are addicted to and then actively seek non-material, ie spiritual fulfillment. But after listening to the stories on the radio, it seemed like for some kids, receiving toys on Christmas could be a real boost of joy. But then again, that just reinforces the idea that things bring happiness. I don't know. I don't want to be Scrooge or Grinch, but in the meantime, I'm not sure how to celebrate this year.

I heard about a webcast of the winter solstice at an ancient Irish tomb, where the sun shines into the tomb only on winter solstice, but I don't know when 8:30 their time is here.

Sorry about your root canal.

nina said...

Donating toys to children brings about a momentary feeling of happiness and especially for older children more sensitive and in tune with the judgments of being needy/living in poverty, makes them feel more "normal". However, instead of or maybe in addition to having toy drives, we need to instead focus on WHY the families are in need to begin with and then create new ways of helping and living so that such families in need are no longer a reality. We keep putting band-aids on our social problems.

And we also need to, as you suggest, focus on what brings us happiness. Our consumer-driven economy is bombarded with the "BUY THIS IT WILL MAKE YOU COOL, HAPPY, POPULAR, etc. etc.". I've been in the position of having nice things and not having nice things--all because of money/income. While having money certainly takes away stress, it doesn't make you any happier--maybe just makes feeling happiness a bit easier because financial security provides one less thing to worry about.

It's a myriad of things: doing with you time what you WANT to be doing...relationships...work that brings about a sense of purpose...having your basic needs securely provided for..and loving yourself and being yourself.

I remember last christmas season, the dollar tree would ask me for money every time I visited. I wanted to say, hey.. this is a multi-billion dollar business and you're asking ME for a dollar? Kinda along the lines of what Weyerhauser just did--donated $100,000 to different counties hit by the recent wind storm/floods. $100,000 to the big W is like a dollar to you and me. And they likely donated the money so that their own interests could be protected (LAND). Good that they donate the cash, but it's really more of a PR thing than a "do the right thing/generosity".

Geesh. I shoulda just blogged this instead of commented.