As we’ve grown older and hopefully wiser, Cristian and I have made it more of a priority to live in accordance with certain principles that we’ve identified as important to us. We noticed an increase in these types of concerns around about the time we moved in together – who knows why, in his case I think most of the time he’s either trying to save money or show me up, but I can’t really SAY that when he’s arguing passionately to turn the thermostat up to 82 for the summer*.
There’s an interesting essay here that touches on the point that loving another person intimately should also affirm or awaken a more general “love for humanity” within each partner. I do think that, for me, this is definitely a major factor in my new willingness – eagerness – to give. I am literally the very, very last person on Earth who can claim love for the masses – and if you doubt that, please let me know and I’ll invite you along on my morning commute – but I do feel rich enough right now, in all senses of the word, to want to live well, to live more lightly on the planet and to provide assistance and support to people who need it**.
But. We don’t make THAT much money. Ideally, we’d tithe 10% of our total income, but right now we can barely do 5. And who the Hell do we give it to? Conversation at our house last night was just ABSURD:
Cristian: There’s Safeplace. We could always give to them.
Dana: Yeah, but it’s easy for battered women to attract money***. Maybe we should do Planned Parenthood, since they’re more controversial?
Cristian: Planned Parenthood’s a good one.
Dana: Yeah, and birth control has gotten more expensive for them, I think I read that somewhere…
Cristian: But if that’s our health donation, maybe I would rather have it go to an international org?
Dana: Good point, good point.
Cristian: Like Doctors Without Borders?
Dana: Oh my God, that’s a really good one. That’s so important.
Cristian: But Planned Parenthood is important too.
Dana: Oh, and I wanted to mention the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation. They’re incredible, what they’ve accomplished, and it would make me happy to do something on behalf of Dad.
Cristian: Uuuuuhhhhh. This is impossible.
Dana: Either honor Dad and fight a cancer that eats you up from inside your own bones, or support doctors who are flying in to provide medical care to people in war torn countries…..which, I have to say, Dad would not be against.
Cristian: Should we wait on this one, try to move on?
Dana: Maybe Planned Parenthood could go under….environmental? Since they’re, uh, helping control the birth rate?
Cristian: No, no, we already decided that one. We’re doing American Farmland Trust.
Dana: We did?
Cristian: I thought we did.
So, I am turning to my readers. How do you decide who to donate to? Do you donate just a little to a lot of places? A lot to one or two? Wait until you’re asked by friends or family doing fundraisers? Advice, suggestions, feedback welcome.
*We settled on 80. I suspect that’s what he was going for in the first place, but I will overlook the deliberate manipulation and instead focus on how hard he has to strategize and work for the compromise…..
**I sound like Pollyanna’s codependent sister here, right? I have a lot of friends and coworkers who did not need to land a good boyfriend/girlfriend to become mindful of their place on the planet, and they have my respect and admiration. And I know a lot of people in relationships who don’t worry about the welfare of the rest of humanity – they take good care of each other, and that’s enough. They have my respect and admiration, too. The take away for me is that, for the first time, it’s pretty painless to give my time and money away. Thanks to my relationship with Cristian, I can act out of a place of love, not guilt. In my opinion, guilt is never a reason to ever do anything, unless you’re making specifics amends to a specific person.
***Now I sound like Pollyanna’s cynical bitch of an Aunt. I worked for a domestic violence shelter back in the day. They do need money, but the creepy, creepy truth is, a beaten woman attracts more sympathy than a poor one. Draw whatever cultural meaning you may……………….