Posts tagged ‘charity’

Why I Am Not Pro-Life

“If only my enemy were bigger than my apathy, I could have won”.

~Mumford and Sons

So I had a strange conversation with my toilet the other day.  I was cleaning the bathroom and finishing by wiping down the small strip of tile behind the toilet.  How it gets dirty back there is beyond me.  There I was, bent over and armed with a paper towel and some generic cleaner when all of a sudden my toilet whispers in my ear.

“I am the King of Spain”.

I stop cleaning and suppress an incredulous look as to spare the toilet’s feelings (he’s a little sensitive).  Politely, I say, “Toilet, clearly you are not the King of Spain”.

“Oh yes I am,” ensured the toilet, “now BOW to your King!”

Now, I’ve had some fairly deep conversations with my toilet and I know he’s not completely devoid of logical reasoning, so either he was just joking or he truly flipped his lid – pun intended.  “What makes you think you are the King of Spain?” I inquired.

“Because I am,” the toilet said, flatly.

“But you’re not”.

“Oh yes I am!” repeated the toilet.

By this time I’m getting a little frustrated and decided that I wasn’t going to let the toilet win this debate.  “Listen toilet, you seem to have flushed all your logic down the drain (again, pun intended).  You are not royalty, you’re not Spanish, heck, you’re not even human!  You are made of porcelain and pixie-dust and the greatest thing you will ever achieve in life is not the ruling of a country, but assisting in the potty training of my two-year old son.

“No YOU listen, peasant!  All those things don’t matter.  I am the King of Spain simply because I say I am.  Now BOW TO YOUR KING!”

((End Scene))

I’m being intentionally weird for a reason.  I’m about to throw a seriously heavy topic at you so I thought I’d soften it with a little strange levity.  And I promise I have a point.  The point is that one cannot be something by simply claiming it to be so.  There has to be some sort of action involved.  Even if toilets could talk and think, it would be absolutely ludicrous for one to believe that it is the King of Spain simply by believing that it is.

Just about as ludicrous as me believing I’m Pro-Life by simply saying that I am.

Now don’t get me wrong, I really wish I could call myself Pro-Life, but I can’t.  And this bothers me, but not enough to actually do something about it.

I guess it would be appropriate at this time to give my definition of Pro-Life.  To me, the label “Pro-Life” has nothing to do with one’s belief regarding abortion.  Sure, I’m against abortion, but that doesn’t make me Pro-Life, it makes me opinionated.  I feel to put the Pro-Life label on someone who doesn’t believe in abortion without any other qualifications is an absurd gesture.  By this logic, the murderer who blows up the clinic and kills numerous doctors and nurses is Pro-Life – and that’s just not right.  The term “Pro-Life” deserves much more than that.

To me, being Pro-Life means that you actually care enough about the lives of others and their suffering to actually DO something about it.  Being Pro-Life isn’t about blindly giving to a charity with paltry funds earned in excess; it’s about investing, really investing in the lives of the less fortunate without qualification and with potential self-sacrifices.  And it’s not all about money.  It’s about releasing oneself; one’s time and convenience and tears and skills and mental stability to those whom God loves just as equally.

And I really want to be Pro-Life.

Now, I want to make it clear that I believe it is a vastly foolish thing to impoverish oneself in order to fight things like poverty.  A fireman does not intentionally set himself on fire to do his job, although it might happen accidentally.  Unless God tells me otherwise, I honestly don’t feel convicted by spending some money to drink soda and keep my apartment warm in the winter.  But I want to do at least something – SOMETHING to make this world a better place.  I want to get to the point where I can see a needy friend and realize that paying for his electric bill one month is far more important than me playing a new video game one month.

So here is my current status: I’m bothered.  I’m bothered by the fact that there are urban schools in my own city where black kids get the crappiest of education.  I’m upset that large regions of Africa are places of literal hell on earth.  I get oh-so-slightly emotional when I read news articles about disasters that obliterate people’s well being en masse.  I get stressed out when I think about epidemics like war and hunger and AIDS and racism and child prostitution.

But not enough to do something about it – and that bothers me.

It’s a sad condition I am in, to care enough to be uncomfortable but not enough to act  – but still enough to feel a good dose of self-loathing.  So maybe I’ll start an AA group, Apathetics Anonymous.  And maybe I’ll find miserable like-minded people; and the misery of our collective company will grow and rise to face the giant of our apathy…and we’ll act.  Perhaps our combined efforts won’t soothe the suffering of the masses, but maybe one mouth will get fed, one child will be loved, one widow will be comforted and one lonely prison inmate will feel like a human again – and that would be enough for the time.

And maybe we could eventually say, “Why yes, I AM Pro-Life”.  And say it with an honest smile.

Now, that would be a beautiful thing.

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FFC Interviews Founder Of “The Way to Begin” Corinna Sanders!

Earlier this year, while juggling the tasks of Facebook stalking, denying Farmtown requests, and desperately trying to think of something clever to say in my Facebook status, I came across a new charitable organization called The Way to Begin, created by my friend Corinna Sanders.

The name alone caught my attention.  And it described exactly how I feel about charity.  With all of the need out there; the “dollar a day” charities, 3rd world hunger, poor quality water and medicine in various places, disasters in Haiti, and the litany of needs on our own soil, one might ask themselves, “Where the heck do I even begin to address all of this?”

Luckily, Corinna and her organization provides a way for people who over-think and become overwhelmed with charity to get involved in simple yet meaningful ways.  The Way to Begin is no where near solving world hunger, but they have made an impact in the St. Louis metro area.  Inspired by this, I asked if Four Finger Culture could do an interview with her, in which she happily agreed.  The following in an hour long interview we had over the internet.

FFC: So in a nutshell, tell the thousands in attendance and the millions watching all over the world (sorry I’ve always wanted to say that) exactly what is The Way to Begin?

CS: The Way to Begin is a year long project I started to give my friends and I (and anyone else who wanted to come along for the ride) the chance to help others and make a difference in our community.

FFC: Very cool project. How are you getting involved in the community? Are you focusing on one specific charity?

CS: No, not just one charity- several! We are focusing on a different project every month.

FFC: Are you doing original charity work or finding other pre-existing charities to get involved with?

CS: I’m mostly finding ones that already exist. My friends have helped me find a lot of worthy causes. Some of them don’t have an actual charity set up yet, but they are still in need of help. For instance, this summer we’re working on a project to help this school in St. Louis where most of the kids are below the poverty level and need school supplies. They’re not asking for anything, but we’re going to help!

FFC: How do you find some of these causes? For instance, the school in St. Louis, how did you come to know of their needs?

CS: The school in St. Louis was found by my friend Todd. He is one of the leaders at the church I go to. August Gate (the church) is really involved in the Soulard and St. Louis communities. They’re always trying to find ways to help out. They asked me to be involved with this because they know that I have organized some things like this in the past.

FFC: What are some of the other charities and causes you’ve helped out with so far?

CS: Let’s see…we’ve helped out with Cookies for Kids Cancer, the APA of Granite City, and we’ve assembled backpack filled with essentials for homeless people.  We’ve also ran a community clothes swap, and I’ve also sold fair trade chocolates to fund a company fighting against human trafficking.

FFC: So you’re definitely doing more than raising funds and asking for donations, you’re actually getting out there in helping in more physical and tangible ways.

CS: Definitely trying. I recognize that I have strengths and weaknesses and I’m trying to do whatever it is I am capable of doing.

FFC: I like that. Especially in harder economic times, people may not have a lot of money, but they can donate things like time and skills.

CS: Exactly.  With the clothes swap I asked people to donate clothes that they don’t wear anymore. Still usable, but it’s just something we leave in the back of our closet but someone would be glad to have.

FFC: Now, what inspired you to start all of this?

CS: Well I think the first start was when my sister-in-law asked me to come to this “Knitting for Newborns” project she heard about. I went, even though I can’t knit! But I went home with the realization that I wanted to help people more. I liked the idea of it. So then I started to organize stuff that I COULD do, and realized I had a ton of friends that were interested and passionate about helping people too.

FFC: I could make assumptions about why it’s called The Way to Begin, but I’ll let you tell me 🙂

CS: I think “The Way to Begin” really describes a lot of people that I know, including myself. We all want to help people, but it’s so much easier to know how to help when you are aware of the community’s needs and who you can give donations to. We all need “a way to begin”.

FFC: That’s a good way to put it. You have something that I feel is a little more unique as far as charities go. I mean, I (sadly and ashamedly) don’t really know the needs of my community. Perhaps people think of charities more in a global way, forgetting about the simple needs of our neighbors.

CS: That’s true. I do think it’s very important to help globally as much as possible, but when someone next door just needs some clothes or food, that can be so easy.

FFC: There are a lot of obstacles when trying to make a grassroots idea a success. Four Finger Culture is dealing with the fact that there are already a million other blog sites out there, so staying relevant and original is a big challenge. What are some of the hurdles you’re dealing with that comes with a brand new charity?

CS: Hmm…I guess sometimes it’s hard to know which causes people will be interested in helping with. I don’t want anyone giving because they feel they have to or out of obligation. But even if only one person helps out, I figure it is better than none!

FFC: Heh. Maybe I’m looking at it the wrong way. I guess you can’t assign a particular number to success, unless the number is one.  Whenever you start something new, you want it to be successful. I guess we all have our own definition of success. So let me ask you this, because this is a grassroots and smaller, more community based project, is it hard not to compare yourself with success of other larger charities?

FFC: Or are you just that pure of heart 😛

CS: LOL, of course it is easy to look at a big charity and think of how much they are able to give. But I really like the way that we’re doing things. We are not just helping one cause, like many charities, we are pursuing multiple charities and therefore are able to give to exactly who we want to. I think that’s kind of cool. I like the freedom of choosing and the ability to find needs that are not necessarily in the spotlight most of the time.

FFC: I really like your ethos. Now your website says that this is a year long project. Will The Way to Begin stop in 2011? Any plans to continue or pass on the torch?

CS: I would love to have it continue, but I don’t have any definite plans for next year. I think the people involved would be more than willing though. They are all so giving.

FFC: If anyone that reads this and is interested in getting involved, where should they go?

CS: They should go to The Way to Begin Facebook page, the blog (www.thewaytobegin.wordpress.com) or email me directly at corinna412@yahoo.com.

I would also like to add that the uniqueness of The Way to Begin is now an inspiration to Four Finger Culture.  Corinna’s mindset isn’t about numbers, it’s about helping people.  So if one person gets helped, then The Way to Begin is a success.  I have to admit that this mindset challenged how I’ve been viewing the popularity and success of Four Finger Culture.  I’ll admit that I’ve cared too much about the numbers and get a little bummed when the website doesn’t get viewed by 1,000 people a day…or 100 people………..or 10 people.   It sucks when there are times where the viewing charts drops like BP stock, but that’s okay.  Thanks to The Way to Begin, I’ve come to realize that if just one person can be impacted by Four Finger Culture, then I’ve done my job.

Rock on, Corinna.  You’re helping more people than you know.

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