Tuesday, January 31, 2017
I grew up going to Catholic school which means I was raised on the story of the Widow's Mite. For those not up on their bible tales, this is the story of an impoverished lady who makes a very small charitable donation in secret, then another guy, who is rich, makes a bid donation and makes a big public deal about it. And we are told that, of course, the tiny anonymous donation is a million times more virtuous and worthy than the big donation made publicly to impress.
And we still believe this to be true in the secular realm as well; everyone was delighted and impressed to discover, after his death, that George Michael had been quietly giving away millions to charity for years and years. And his actions were frequently contrasted with those of a president who shall not be named who enjoys bragging about how much he donates (ahem, to his own foundation--which I'm pretty sure is the same as just taking money out of one pocket and putting into your other pocket--but I digress).
All of this is preface to the fact that I feel pretty uncomfortable--like basically I am revealing myself to be a huge heel--publicly announcing my own increasingly frequent (albeit modest in the scheme of things) donations to worthy organizations. And yet I do. I've started using the hashtag #thisweeksdonation on Instgram to report and chart them (hard to believe, but no one else has apparently ever used that tag before).
The reasons for this are twofold. First, because shortly after the election I read something that really stuck with me (though I cannot remember for the life of me where I read it or who said it! and I so very much wish I could!): what do you do, someone asked, when you just can't stand to read the news anymore because it is making you so crazy and miserable? and this clever person responded: MAKE YOUR OWN NEWS. Do something that feels right to you and tell other people about it. And I cannot get over the simple profundity of this, of taking it upon yourself to first make happen and then spread the story you want to see out there.
Secondly, a number of activists of color have been pointing out lately that white people need to get a whole lot more comfortable with being uncomfortable. That our collective desire for personal comfort (physical, psychological, and emotional) leads to, and feeds, all manner of ills. And I agree entirely. So this is one tiny way I can make myself a tiny bit uncomfortable while doing a thing I feel ought to be done. As we find ourselves saying about so many things these days: it's a start.