Saturday, January 01, 2005

Great Big Bubbling Hearts

You see a young man who has turned in desperation to journalists, and he is sobbing on camera, crying that he has lost his entire family, lost his children. Perhaps a fate worse than losing one's life. He is Indonesian and his skin is brown, but the grief welling in his eyes and the terror in his voice are as immediately recognizable as any word or gesture from your next door neighbor.

Still he seems far away from your world. "Tsunami" has the lilt of the fantastic, and this devastation is nothing that could threaten you.

But continents and oceans are but blips in our ever-more connected earth. If you would lend a hand to your neighbor whose house was on fire, if you are a person who stops to help a person in need, if you believe in a world of community where people work together to help each other in times of disaster, then you can do something.

There are those who talk about how one never knows where the money truly goes when you give to a non-profit. It is true that there are many organizations that are badly managed, and that do not make proper use of the contributions that they receive. In my experience, this argument is most often used by people who want to make themselves feel better about doing nothing. It's like saying that because you can get bad food and bad service at a restaurant, you shouldn't go out to eat. I prefer to do my homework and to seek out a good restaurant.

So you can do the same with non-profits. And there is a great web tool with which to do this called Guidestar, which allows you to examine an organization's financial stats. Just as there are a lot of good people out there who are working very hard to help others, so there are a lot of good organizations.

However, if you want to call Americans "stingy" (though the UN official Jan Egeland's words were misconstrued), well then, we can take this outside. I and my compatriots may suck at geography (it's true most of us can't find France on a world map to save our lives), we may be arrogant, and we may eat disgusting amounts of food, but

we

are

not

stingy.

Americans have great big bubbling hearts. No where else is volunteerism so common, and giving so great. I am proud of that America. I know that it is something that defines us a nation. I know that we are a generous people. That we will give and work to put this part of our world back together again.

5 Comments:

At 8:42 AM, Blogger Indeterminacy said...

My muse and I decided to donate something yesterday, but it's apparently not as easy as that (in Germany). There are so many organizations collecting funds for so many different projects, we want to be sure to donate to one with the lowest overhead channeling the money directly to the people who need it. Finding the right organization may delay us a day or two, but where there's a will there's a way.

 
At 3:00 AM, Blogger RichardKS said...

Really, all the well know organisations are very good when it comes to overheads, these days. In this case, I would choose Medecins san Frontiers because of the nature of the event, similarly Oxfam and the Red Cross. Guidestar is very handy, though.

 
At 10:50 AM, Blogger Irma Vep said...

Sziastok You Two,

Yes, I am familiar with Medicins sans Frontiers-- no need to worry about an agenda there-- seems to be a great organization.

How nice for you to drop by, HJ.

 
At 10:11 PM, Blogger RichardKS said...

yeah, well; I kinda been kicking my heels since the Garden of Earthly Delights closed down. I would mount a campaign to persuade Julia to relaunch it, but I think she just wants the attention. Bitch.

 
At 10:37 PM, Blogger Irma Vep said...

oh I miss the Garden too! where can a girl frolic these days? She told me she might start a new bloggy though, and I think she must.

Well, Budapest is no substitute for the Garden, I'm afraid. No one romps around naked here. There's no life-size peaches to speak of. But I'll try to entertain you as best I can with what I have.

 

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