Lately, I’ve been moved. And by “moved” I mean I’ve been faced with a chasm of a split personality; the selfish “me-me-me” side on one side and the human-loving, mistake-making almost-hippie-chick on the other side. I realize that this is truly my whole life’s issue is to walk a balanced walk on either side of this canyon of my wants, needs, desires and the rest of humanity.
As most people I know and experience on social media, I am critical and judgmental. And naturally, I am my own biggest critic. So, there’s times when I see “memes” go around that I find myself annoyed and want to squelch the messages because, too much eh?
I’m seeing this pattern so much with the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, because here’s the thing… I am critical against what I call “sheep who just do it because everyone else is doing it” but I cannot, I repeat, I CAN NOT bring myself to be critical of this particular sheep-like activity because it’s actually GOOD to do. It’s creating awareness for something that previously had little awareness. And that brings me spelunking to the other side of the ever-widening cavernous pit. I want to do good things that build humanity and I want to see others doing good things that build humanity. And the potential I’m seeing with the ALSIceBucket challenge is huge. This has created ALS awareness faster and bigger than the Susan Komen Cure seems to have… we all know when Breast Cancer Awareness month is around because everything in every store turns pink, but people are either compelled to purchase the Pink or they are compelled to stay away from every grocery store until Pink Month is over. Not that there’s anything wrong with Pink Purchasing People. I am a proud pink purchaser. That is because Pink is my favorite color, though, and not because I am actively donating to Breast Cancer Cures.
In fact, I’m not generally a ‘donator’ – or I haven’t been in the past. I’ve decided as of two weeks ago to start, though. And here’s why:
Because Giving is Healthy:
I believe working hard and then parting with some of your earnings or even parting with some of your available resources to give to those who are in need is a healthy thing. According to a survey of 4,500 people (this links to a PDF file) who donate time and money, participants reported better health, improved sense of well-being, and less stress. Yes, giving is just as good for the giver as it is for the recipient of the goods.
Because It Keeps Us Grounded:
I believe that actively seeking and participating in opportunities where you can be of assistance keeps your head out of the clouds and in a firmer realm of reality. Sometimes it’s easy to forget that life is hard when we seem to have it made. We begin to fret the petty stuff which soon becomes grand stuff and it’s hard to reel ourselves back from our own set-up existence to see that… hey… it’s actually not that bad. According to author Karen Salmansohn, in The Bounce Back Book, giving allows for you to look into the world and see people experiencing true problems and it helps put our own life into perspective.
Because Giving Keeps Us Connected:
Most people have some sort of connection with the causes that they choose to give to. If they didn’t have a connection to it then you might argue that it’s possible they are not truly giving, but possibly relieving guilty feelings. That is just a hypothesis on my end as I don’t have studies to prove it at this point. That said, when you we see something that we connect to, we are more inclined to help. Let me give you an example. A few weeks ago, I was driving home from a doctors appointment. Traffic was bad. I mean, traffic is normally bad, but this time it was terrible. I figured there must have been an accident and continued inching along the highway. As I started to turtle my way past the scene of the accident, my heart jumped out of my chest and I began to cry. I was shocked by my response but more-so I was shocked by the crumpled up piece of aluminum foil that they were attempting to crane onto a Tow Truck. Whoever was in that car did not survive, I knew it. I couldn’t continue driving after I saw them reach into the car and pull out a car seat. I pulled off the freeway and let it out. How horrific. I just prayed that there wasn’t an actual baby in that car. Several days later, I saw a fundraiser for a family in my area go around Facebook and realized that this was the family of the driver of the cube of metal I saw and I could not go a single step further until I gave to this family. I could only spare $10.00 that day, but I knew not going to Starbucks for two days would be better for me than not giving to this family. I had a personal connection with them, even though they have no idea who I am and probably never will. It was personal enough.
I still struggle with giving. I tend to walk past homeless people and be critical of their ‘scams’ and I think its important to be informed of your causes. But most importantly, I think its important to reach deep inside myself and then reach far outside of myself in order to grow. So I make the pledge to give to humanity a piece of my hard work and time on a regular basis because it’s healthy, keeps me grounded, and keeps me connected to the rest of the world.