Thursday, July 7, 2011

100 Days toward a healthier life - Day 61

Breakfast:  Nothing
Lunch:  Frozen dinner, enchilada thing, 2 snack bags of cranberries
Dinner:  Last of the roast beef, horseradish/mayonnaise mixture, green beans
Snack:  Cheddar Crackefuls, 2

In the past 24 hours I have slept for more than 14.  I woke early, was up for a few minutes and went back to bed, sleeping until noon.  I have managed to stay up all day, and whilst I do not feel ill, I know that I could have easily gone for a nap or two.  I am headed off in a few minutes, but I only got up at noon because the telephone rang.  I always answer the phone, you just never know when it will be important, although it rarely is.  This is going to be long and it is all the fault of that telephone call.  (Note:  I just re-read this, sort of, and it is long and boring and biased.  Even so, I stand by it, typos, rotten syntax, rambling, confusion, preachiness and all.)

I think that the most important work that we do in our lives is to live the best life that we can, take care of our families, even the members who drive us insane.  So, family first.

Next is our faith community, which does not even have to be the church to which we belong, just a place that does good works.  Even if you are of a different spiritual path, they will be happy to welcome you into their social service work.  I accept that many people will always put God first, but that is not my way.  Whether you believe anything about a higher power or not, the first thing most of us experience is family, and to my mind, even with a God, that God gave us family...and later friends...first, long before we could even begin to come to faith, so that must mean something, yes?

The next step outwards is our neighborhoods.  Over the years I have lost contact with the people who lived nearest to me, as they moved away and other people moved in.  We live in a sort of transitional area, with people stopping here on their way to someplace better.  We are here because it was the only location we could afford and it has served us well for nearly 36 years.  I know and am conversant with only four other families.  That is kind of shameful, because I do not know if there is anyone around here who does not have family or friends that check up on them.  I would just hate to find out that someone needed help and did not know any of us well enough to reach out.  It makes me think of that woman in Australia that died and no one missed her for years.  I mean, how sad and unfortunate is that. 

So, anyway, this is inspired by a telephone call requesting a charitable donation.  When I expressed my inability to help them, the woman was nice enough, though clearly disappointed that I did not hand over my inconsiderable wealth to her.  That, the last part, is not true, but when I asked to be put on their no-call list, because receiving these calls is so distressing to me, she got all snarky and called me selfish before she disconnected.

That reminded me of a similar call, oh, about ten years ago, from our state's public radio system.  I had been a regular contributor for decades, but that time was one of struggle for me and I just could not make even a small donation.  This was around the time of the annual fund drive (they only had one each year then), and the station or a volunteer, most likely, was making cold calls to former contributors, and when I explained that I could not donate anything that year, her response was something like, oh, surely you can't be so cheap that you can't send five dollars or something, and, well, that stung a bit, too. 

An earlier experience, around 35 years ago was a call-center call for the Special Olympics.  The guy who called was really rude and pushy and when I kept trying to explain that we figured out what we could afford to donate each year and then chose a few organizations to whom we would make that donation, and that I was happy to add them to the list for the following year because we have donated to them in the past, he called me a couple of names, ones I am unwilling to share here, mostly because I am trying so hard to not curse any more.

Even though those three incidents were locally based, they did nothing to diminish me desire to do stuff that was not about me.  You know?  And, see, I am all over the place today, Diary, so sorry about that.

Over the years I have participated in tons of local and far-flung charitable programs.  I think that being involved in stuff beyond my own, personal needs is important, maybe even essential for my own well being.  I have volunteered and donated for all of my adult life, and began taking my daughter to things like the community food programs in the city near us, when she was nearly five years old and allowed to participate.  She helped to read the recipes and create a shopping list, do the shopping and the cooking, and come along to the sites.  There she could only help to clean up the tables and bring extras to the participants, but it was one of the things that helped her to become the generous and careful person that she is today.

All of this brings me to where I am on this issue today.   I suspect that few people will agree with me, Diary, but I have some strong feelings about this.

If you are going to be charitable, then do it locally.  It is my belief that the only exception should be for any service, product or other support for our military personnel and their families.  As far as the governments of the world are concerned, if they are going to use military force to solve, ameliorate or defer their issues with other governments or groups, then, as far as I am concerned those creeps are on their own.  Unfortunately, in order to play their little war games, they need bodies to become fodder for their dreams of manifesting on the big stage their own insecurities and shortcomings, aspects they are unable to manage in their personal lives.

Seriously.  All of that filters down to individual people suffering.  I care about that aspect, I really and truly do.  If anyone cares to dispute my dedication to helping wherever help is needed, I am perfectly ready, more than willing, and able, to duke it out with you in person.  I do not consider myself a particularly violent person, nor do I endorse or support violence of any kind, and I am not the teeniest bit comfortable handling up-close-and-personal weapons, much less those of mass destruction, but I am willing to stand up for my beliefs, and this is one of them.  Alrighty, I am being ironical about the whole duking it out part.  I would not hit anyone or even have an argument because I do not do conflict of any kind, but just because I am a pacifist, it does not mean that I am a doormat.

The keep it local thing extends to adoptions, disaster relief, world-wide relief efforts and anything else of which you can think or find an organization willing to lend a helping hand.  Seriously.  I feel that strictly and that strongly about this.  I empathize as much as anyone when the call comes for assistance to a far-flung country experiencing a natural disaster or governmental screw-up or, well, anything.  I used to do that, too, jump to put in my pittance so that it would join all of the other pittances to make enough to feed the hungry, support medical aid, send blankets, baby clothes, clean drinking water, encourage and support local-based enterprises and the entrepreneurial spirit, animal husbandry and all the rest.  I used to financially support the efforts of a whole bunch of organizations, both local and all over the planet.

I know that giving is essential to living for me.  I need to share what I have with other people and organizations that help those who have even less than I do.  Were I lucky enough to have more money than I knew what to do with, I would be even more generous.  Frankly, I am more prosperous than many of the people on the planet, but whilst that is not an entirely separate issue, this is already too long and even I am losing interest in this, so much the worse for you, Diary.

However, during all of that donating, there were always situations, circumstances or conditions in my own community that went begging for funds.  I have always supported local needs, whatever they might be, but not to the extent that I could have, because my efforts were diluted by all of the other stuff I was supporting.  The truth is that even when you know about something or a lot of somethings, you simply cannot help everyone.

As for the arguments that there will always be countries who simply cannot help their own people, that is certainly true, but it is often the consequence of poorly designed or implemented efforts, and way too often corrupt officials and governments.  Frankly, the keep sending aid to those places means that you are actually supporting the local despots and that little, if any, of the money and supplies sent to those places ever filters down to the people who really need it.  Any doubts about that can quickly be shattered by a little research.  And, the plain and simple truth is that corrupt or clueless officials never seem to be educated and encouraged, much less censured or punished in an effort to change their ways, meaning that the people will always be suffering with no end possible or in sight.  

I know that makes me sound supremely selfish, but it is not possible to do everything and I decided to have more focus and immediacy in how I donate and volunteer.  I honor whatever and however other people choose to use their resources, but this is what works for me; my preference is to be as up close and personal with my giving as I am with everything else in my life.  Whatever you do, great, and there are sufficient personal opportunities for you to help someone, because your own community is full of volunteer opportunities just waiting to be filled.  Some of the more easily found are your faith community, veteran's organizations (even our tiny village has one), schools, hospitals, your local volunteer center, correctional facility, and so much more.

I care about people first, but just as important is your local humane society/organization, and whilst this is an issue that deserves it's own conversation, I am going to share a bit of what I have learned from 28 years of rescue work.  One of the more important things I learned from all of those years is that if it is possible to influence and teach children about humane treatment of animals, it often filters into the home, and through that child's life, how essential it is to be a good caretaker and steward of every living thing.  If you fall under the thrall of a group that claims to be a non-kill shelter/group, it is certainly better than nothing, because even a group that claims to be no-kill, well, the first time they turn away any animal (any condition, temperament, health) and even if that is related to the limits of their resources, that animal has to go to a municipal shelter or organization, which takes in every animal that comes to their door.  No-kill groups/shelters have the luxury of taking only the animals for which they have a decent chance of finding permanent homes, but that means that they are simply passing the burden to a facility that often has no alternative but the euthanize animals who are not lucky enough to find decent homes.  Municipal shelters have limited resources, as well, but they never turn anyone or any animal away from their doors.  If a no-kill organization passes on a single animal, for whatever reason, then they, and everyone who works or volunteers with them, hold the same responsibility for the eventual death of that animal, just the same as if you had been there, held the animal and used the drugs to end it's life.  No different.  Clearly this holds a large amount of energy for me, but right is right, no matter how one tries to nuance it.


There are local volunteer centers all over the world.  Just go to Google and type in

volunteer center (then add your city, town, county, whatever)

You will find links to your center and they are wonderful at matching the interests and skills of volunteers to the needs in your own community.

Here are some links to find local places that could really use your help and/or donations.

Big Brothers Big Sisters

Habitat for Humanity
One of the many great things about Habitat is their ReStores, where they sell materials that were left over from projects and/or donated materials that they cannot use in their projects.  This is a great opportunity for volunteering, as well as finding home building and repair materials for your own projects, whilst support some seriously wonderful work.

American Red Cross (There is likely to be a similar organization where you live.)

Volunteer Match

Corporation for National and Community Service
This includes:
  •     AmeriCorps
  •     Citizen Corps
  •     Learn and Serve America
  •     National Conference on Volunteering and Service
  •     Peace Corps
  •     Senior Corps
  •     Volunteers for Prosperity
  •     Federal Civil Service
  •     Foreign Service
  •     Military
  •     State and Local Government
  •     U. S. Public Health Service
  •     Veterans Affairs

This kind of mess is what happens when you are not getting the right amount of sleep.  Just saying.

Location still broken.  Alas.  How will I know where I am? 

Bloom where you are planted.
Oh, I like this one

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