Have you ever done something you felt good about? Like, hey, maybe you gave money to save a kitten from the wrath of Alice. And then someone else comes along and says, “Well, you know, those kittens misuse those funds. Just the other day, I saw a kitten with a brand new catnip toy.” It’s like you had this cool new balloon and someone just went and stuck a pin in it. Cause you know, balloons will just deflate anyway, right? Look how they helped you out there!
I’ve had this experience a lot of times. In case you didn’t know, I’m generally a very cheap person. There’s a reason for this. I’m also a fairly poor person, so the cheapness thing really works well there. But sometimes I try to give to a good cause. When I was a kid, I liked giving to the Angel Tree fund. You’d pick an angel off the tree with the name of some kid who needed new clothes. And you bought the clothes and wrapped them up and gave them to the Salvation Army people, and then those guys gave them to the ones in need. Some kid got new clothes! Yay, me, I helped.
At least I thought I did, until one day a friend told me, “Well, you know, they return those clothes and then use the money on something else. Like watches.” Like, ZOMG, really? That’s horrible! They took money I freely gave, not expecting anything in return, and. . . and. . . they bought a new watch? Holy crapsters! Poor people don’t need to know what time it is! All they gotta do is sit back and watch the welfare checks pour in.
Oh, yeah, cause that’s the life, you know. Here’s a secret. I took government “hand-outs” once. It was for purely selfish reasons. I wanted to feed my kids. I know, right? I was proud, and I didn’t like going to those appointments on the “bad side of town.” It sure as heck wasn’t convenient. You had to have documentation, and you had to bring your kid to get her finger pricked (Four-year-old Thing One yelled “My haaaand, my haaaand” when they pricked hers), and sometimes you were there for hours. But I was at home with my kids then, because I felt that was the best place for me to be. Oh, yeah, and because if I’d had a job, the salary would have all gone to daycare. That too.
But, Alice, if you didn’t have enough money, you shouldn’t have had children! It’s your own fault! Maybe it was my fault. But it wasn’t their fault. So I sucked it up, and I got a card for food, and I bought government juice and cheese and eggs. One day I had a cart loaded with the stuff, and saw the lady behind me watching. I felt embarrassed until she said, “I’m glad my money goes to help sweet little families like yours.”
That comment cost her nothing. But it made me cry. She could have looked at it an entirely different way. She could have poked a hole in my already partially deflated balloon. But she saw it another way. She saw giving the way I see it. I work full-time now. My kids are older. We are hardly rolling in dough, but we can get by, so even though it might smart a little, I’m glad the government takes money out of my check. Because once I needed that little bit of help, and now others need it. Believe me, very few people are getting rich off of handouts. If they are, I have to commend them. Those panhandlers stand there day after day, asking everyone who comes by for a dime. I figure they earn their money at least as well as most people with office jobs do, especially when roughly 80 percent of their time is spent facebooking.
Not that I know anyone who does that.
People are going to judge, no matter what. I know people might have wondered how someone who needed help buying groceries could afford a decent car. What they didn’t know was that my bleeding heart liberal parents sold it to me well below cost. And I spent my tax return on it. My parents have worked hard their entire lives. No one gave them help. They put themselves through college. They worked, they saved. But my father said, “I worked hard, and no one helped me. So I want to use my check to help other people. That’s how it is supposed to work.”
That’s how it is supposed to work. Isn’t that what most religions talk about? Tis better to give than to receive? I know Jesus was totally out there going, hey, hey, wait a second, where’s my take? Here I go and give you guys a fish dinner, and do I get anything? Well, see if I help you jerks out anymore!
Yeah, no, he just gave to people. And he didn’t check their credentials first. He didn’t go, “Hey, stop stoning that lady! She . . . oh, wait, she’s a prostitute. Go on ahead. Don’t mind me!” He helped her. He helped lepers. When a man asked how he could get to Heaven, Jesus said, “Give all your money to the poor, and follow me.” And yet, I see so many religious people who oppose welfare and government programs for the poor. Guess what? Jesus wrote me, and he thinks you guys who vote against that stuff suck.
Not really, Jesus wouldn’t do that. He’s too nice. But I’m not. If you never, ever help anyone without expecting something in return, you suck. If you gripe when people raise money to help out someone in need, you suck. Once you give, you give. It is no longer in your hands. They can do with it what they will. What they do has no effect on what you did. You still gave of yourself. You still did the right thing.
For what else are we on this planet for, if not to help one another?
There is a trend, it seems, that the only good reading is reading that is serious and depressing. I don’t quite understand this. I mean, it’s really much harder to be funny than it is to be sad. Anyone can say sad stuff. For instance, you could say “My cute, fuzzy little kitten is dead.” Cute dead fuzzy little kittens are sad. Now making cute dead little fuzzy kittens funny? That takes talent! Also sickness in the head. But mostly talent!
Yet we don’t like that, do we? No, to be taken seriously you have to be dramatic. That’s why you rarely get any “ha ha” movies winning academy awards. Or silly books winning major book prizes (although Dave Barry did win a Pulitzer – yay Dave!) And there are those who think silly blogging is worthless. If you’re blogging about funny stuff, then you aren’t recognizing that there is poverty, and disease, and destruction, and dead kittens. And Republicans! (Yeah, you know I couldn’t resist adding that one.)
But that’s not true. Humor doesn’t make you forget that there are horrible things in the world. Humor is what allows you to handle the horrible things in the world. Sometimes humor is dark, because sometimes the world is dark. Dead fuzzy kittens fall into the dark humor category, generally, unless we’re talking about Persians cause those things are messed up. Kidding! Hahaha, please don’t send PETA after me.
So then we should only blog about serious topics, right? Don’t get me wrong – serious blogging is needed. I know several really good bloggers who blog about serious, important topics like abuse, chronic pain, depression, and more. And unfortunate kitten accidents, probably. And people who are so disturbed they keep bringing up cute past-tense animals. But – wait – if you’re blogging about unfortunate events, then you’re still not doing anything. You’re not MAKING A DIFFERENCE IN THE WORLD.
You didn’t realize that, did you? Blogging about poverty doesn’t end poverty. I know, it floored me when I found this out too. Blogging about abuse doesn’t stop abuse either. And blogging about Republicans? Yeah, they are still here. So we should really just quit this blogging business, you guys, and get out there and MAKE A DIFFERENCE. I thought about this a whole lot when I was composing this here blog post. I mean, when I wasn’t considering whether dead monkeys would sound creepier than dead kittens. I came to a conclusion. I was going to change the world.
So this morning I got up and went to a homeless shelter where I served people breakfast I’d made myself out of twigs and blackberries, then got them all houses (John McCain will never miss them). And right after that I flew to Africa and I gave people food (would you believe those people in the Unicef commericals were just standing around NOT giving sandwiches to these kids? They were right there the whole time!) I also gave out a bunch of free drug samples I stole from my doctor’s office. Some of it was enhancement pills, but who knows, they might be useful. Before I left, I adopted a child not yet claimed by Angelina Jolie and I flew back to the states just in time for lunch. Instead of eating (I gave my sandwich to a less fortunate kitten), I cured Cancer. Then I went to all the inner cities and gathered up all the guns and the gangs and we joined hands and sang Kum-ba-yah and drank coke and promised to be bffs forever. Then I took the guns and aimed them at all the abusers, especially the child abusers, and they all ran and jumped off cliffs. On my break I created purple glasses so that when people wore them everyone looked purple and they weren’t sure who they were supposed to hate anymore. I also wrote letters to every nation on earth and said “Quit it” and they all went “D’oh” and stopped their wars and dismantled their nuclear facilities. Finally, I went home, gave my supper to a homeless guy I made into my personal butler after teaching him how to be courteous and wear bow ties, and I cured AIDS. Then I worked out legislation that allowed gay people to marry because seriously there is no reason they can’t have FUN too and they invited me to a rocking party where I was celebrated as savior to us all, but I humbly declined the giant statue dedicated in my honor. Instead I had it melted down and made into a swimming pool for kids without swimming pools. Then I went to bed.
You might have noticed in there that I forgot to go to my job. Also my husband and children were strangely absent. And there was no blog post, and people got kind of bored. Here I’d gone and fixed everything, but why? Why do we want to fix things? What makes all this struggle worth it? Happiness? Justice? Relief?
What do you feel when you read a really good piece of writing? Or see a fantastic piece of art? Or listen to beautiful music? For a moment, do you not feel so hopeless? For a moment, do you think change is possible? I do. Can I say I’ve CHANGED THE WORLD? No. Not the whole world. Just a very small part of it. There are people out there that do extraordinary things. People who work to cure diseases, who go into inner cities and teach, who feed and house people, who push for legislation to better the lives of the people around them. I work at a library. I let people get books. I don’t change a great deal. But once I looked for information for an elderly man recently diagnosed with Cancer. I didn’t find what he was looking for, but he said “Thank you for trying. Thank you for listening.”
I made a difference to him. I make a difference to my family. I make a difference, just maybe, to one of you reading. After all, without me, you might be tempted to eat baby powder. Or listen to really awful music without realizing it. You might even be try to read 50 Shades of Awful. Maybe you might laugh. Maybe you might feel a little better than you did five minutes ago.
The world is a big place. There are a lot of people playing their parts. Do not doubt your own part. If you want to do more, then do it. But don’t forget what has already been done, the ripples that you have created in your own pond just by being you. Interesting, unique, and possibly gassy you.
Blog on, my friends.