I told you about turning down the telephone canvasser for women’s breast cancer. I said I felt no guilt. That feeling of freedom is an advantage of pre-committing to a certain charitable focus.
But there are downsides to focus. And they are primarily emotional.
Because we have made that significant pre-commitment, I don’t have the opportunity quite as often to enjoy the little “rush” of good feelings that comes when I could readily give to the neighborhood kids when they knocked on our door looking for donations to this, that, or the next school fundraiser they were involved in.
I can’t “prove my humanity” by handing $10 to the latest canvasser in behalf of rape prevention or battered women or whatever cause for which she claims she is appealing.
I don’t get the satisfaction of hearing, “Thanks, man,” from the guy on the street corner who is bumming a buck ’cause he wants something to eat (whether he’s really hungry for food, or has a hankering for “a cold one,” or happens to be one of those [exceedingly rare] professional “homeless” people who pull down $80,000 a year by playing the role).
Beyond that, I must tell you, I think the hardest thing is to stand up against the social tide of my peer group when “everyone” is giving to the latest disaster. And there I stand like a dummy: “. . . and you’re not?!?”
A few years ago, there was the “Ice Bucket Challenge.” Some time before that, there was the Haitian earthquake. And there was the Japanese tsunami. And the tsunami off the coast of Indonesia. Hurricane Katrina. . . .
There are always hurricanes and earthquakes and other disasters. And, it seems, “everyone” is jumping on the various bandwagons. But Sarita and I: by and large, we don’t participate.
“What?!? You aren’t going to give?”
“No. We’re pre-committed elsewhere. We’ve made bigger, longer-term commitments to this other thing. Thank you for the offer, though.”
Somehow, it simply feels awkward.
But, to be honest, that’s the way much of life feels to me. I don’t tend to “follow the crowd.”
And it’s awkward to buck the trend.
But when I reflect on it, I realize I’m doing the right thing–a better thing. Long-term.