Poverty, Water, Animals: On Charity and the Why
March 12, 2014
A good friend and I were talking about money, charity and volunteering one day and he expressed an opinion that took me aback.
We’re so often in agreement given our remarkably similar backgrounds, we put ourselves through school, supported our families from a young age, worked really hard for a long time to get where we are, that I struggled to understand why he was against volunteering and charity.
While I feel that I worked really hard to get here, I didn’t get here without help; he feels that he worked really hard to get here and doesn’t feel that he got any help so he doesn’t feel he should give back to the community at large. Granted, we didn’t travel the exact same path but it’s hard for me to fathom overlooking the small kindnesses of strangers, like the support from a guidance counselor or a colleague who lobbied for your job security. These are the kinds of things that, though small, add up. They make a difference.
Pat Rothfuss, one of my favorite writers and a stand-up kind of guy, explained it far better than I managed that day:
The simple truth is, Jason, at this point in my life, I have enough money to live comfortably. And in my opinion, if you have enough money to live comfortably and you keep trying to get more and more and more money… well… it’s kind of an asshole thing to do.
It’s like this: if you have one piece of cake, and you eat it, that’s fine.
If you have two pieces of cake, you should probably share some with a friend. But maybe not. Occasionally we could all use two pieces of cake.
But if you have a whole cake, and you eat *all* of it, that’s not very cool. It’s not just selfish, it’s kinda sick and unhealthy.
That’s why I do all the charity work. Because the world isn’t as good as I want it to be.
I don’t have a better explanation than that for why I felt compelled to help those who have less. “The world isn’t as good as I want it to be”, so, let’s do something about that.
I don’t belong to the “have too many cakes” camp, particularly since I still support two adult dependents who aren’t my children, but while I aim to become that kind of wealthy someday, I don’t need to be that wealthy to want to make a difference. I can’t save any one person but sometimes a helping hand is all you need, sometimes it gives you enough hope to scrape yourself off the floor and keep going.
And that’s why I still give. Even though I’m all about personal responsibility and bootstrapping, I remember when a kind gesture was enough to help me do another job, fight another day.
PiC and I get an annual spending allowance out of our shared budget. This is purely for us to spend, however we want, that has nothing to do with necessities which are covered. It’s not much, but it’s not little either.
I usually hoard mine (SMAAUUGGGG) but this year, I’m making a conscious effort to give between 10-20% to meaningful charities.
Pat Rothfuss’s Worldbuilders was one: This was a massive fundraising drive to donate to Heifer International. They do good work, without much waste, and helping people make their own livelihood resonates with me.
Nathan Fillion and his Clean Water campaign for his birthday is another. I love my Captain and I love clean water for people. I remember, growing up, hearing the stories of how the people in our villages had to carry their water, in buckets, up from the streams. Backbreaking work for survival.
Last, and most dear to my heart, the Humane Society & Rescue Organization where we adopted Doggle. Rescuing animals: FTW!
Also, as always, I’ll be collecting things that are in good shape but we really don’t need anymore and donating them to charity that can use them: homeless and battered women/children’s shelters.
Which side of the fence do you stand on? What are your thoughts on the subject?
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