The Ungiven

A Year in the Life of
a Turncoat Saying No

I did it. Or rather, I did not. First, let’s take exception and write this post in the first person, lest no one else take the fall for my unspeakable acts of omission, negligence, and absolute lack of empathy: I have refused to make end-of-the-year donations.
I don’t mean once, or twice, or heaven forbid, three times, but have deleted all desperate emails, coming from all corners of the world, for my urgent help saving individuals, communities, natural resources, ideas, or for Ebenezer Scrooge’s sake, the whole planet.
Worst: not so secretly, I actually enjoy receiving these last-minute solicitations from such noble causes, vainly nursing the obnoxious idea that, somehow, just having been chosen to receive them is a sign of my superior humanitarian condition, and public acknowledgement of my dutifully celebrated goodness.
Feeling so overwhelmed by such displays of goodwill towards my potential to add a savior’s hand to a worthy fight or effort, towards the betterment of mankind, I go to self-centered lengths of congratulating the face in the mirror, for being so gifted and touched by, no question about, a divine inspiration.
Except that I didn’t. Methodically and systematically, I’ve treated them like spam, and as requests intensified by the end of the year, December being the apex of the marathon of sign-ins and petitions, I matched their insistence by shredding it all without even opening.
Never mind what came in through regular mail, tons of envelopes loaded with free addresses and chances to win duffel bags, stuffed animals, bumper stickers, badges to be displayed showing my allegiance, that I judiciously took care of, tearing it all apart with bare hands or scissors.

I did it without a second thought, and even now, I’m not sure I regret having done it so. After all, they all seemed to be addressed to someone with way deeper pockets than mine, and a bigger heart too, willing to go out of the way and having finger cramps just signing checks or providing credit card numbers.
It all did look as if they were not talking to me, but someone higher up in the big hierarchy of the good giving and the well willing. So, fine, I did feel a bit pressured to perform my very best, and obviously, failed miserably, for otherwise there wouldn’t be reasons for a post like this.
So, I said no, and now I’m saying, I’m sorry, ACLU, AFSC, Alaska Wilderness League, America’s Wolves, Amnesty, AnimalHaven, ASPCA, Audubon, Bird’s Nest, Care, ColorOfChange, Common Dreams, Covenant House, Earthjustice, EEF, FoodBank, Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace, Heifer, and HOPE.
I sincerely apologize League of Women Voters, LGBT, MADRE, Media Matters, Mercy Corps, Mother Jones, Native Americans, Nature Conservancy, Oceana, OpenSecrets, OWS, Oxfam, PETA, PFAW, Pro-Publica, RootsAction, Save the Rainforest, Sierra Club, Smithsonian, Solar & Wind Power, Truth Out, UNICEF, UN Refugee Fund, Union of Concerned Scientists, Utne Reader, WIN, Working Families, and WWF.

Plus, my deepest regrets for not having heeded the appeals of an assortment of local charities, housing organizations, hunger programs,(more)
Read Also:
* Trick or Truce
* Sleight of News

or stood with some not-so-not-for-profit museums, art galleries, poetry centers, political actions and vote drives, on top of a variety of worthy Kickstarter projects for great ideas and the very next big thing.
I’ve let down a huge array of impoverished communities around the world by not helping fund crucial water and sanitation projects, emergency health efforts, vaccines and mosquito nets, badly needed maternity supplies, educational materials and self-sustainability projects.
Thus I do qualify for the Grinch of the Year, if there’s even such a thing, as I don’t seem remorseful enough that no one has ever nominated me for an award of any kind, for that matter. Yes, it’s all probably out of spite. I should be ashamed and yet I am not. Once I did it, or didn’t, I actually fell a sense of relief.
Any time now, I’m expecting a few invitations from my pals in Wall Street and Washington, to celebrate our good fortune this past year. No one in jail and billions in our accounts, we deserve a self-congratulatory adulation just for how we’ve saved the economy.
We’ve reduced the deficit to its bare minimum, or rather, the reduced minimum wage has gone a long way to guarantee that no moocher will ever get back on their feet, on the back of our defense budget or military spending. And we made sure that food stamps won’t get on our way either.

I’ll sleep extremely well tonight, as I’ve been doing since that Socialist government of a Kenya-born president ended. Oh, it got even better since, with plenty of wars to boost business and, as no one dares to come after our weapons, lots of reasons to carry them everywhere, no need to conceal them.
And don’t even mention that crazy, Commie-inflected idea of donating some of the end-of-the-year bonuses to the homeless. For what? For them to spend in ‘booze, women and movies’ as our buddy Grassley puts it? They’re already getting fat of so much government handouts. Why should we pay for it?
Instead, I should be proud of my humble contributions, despite the obscure reference to Atlas or the infamous pun with the word Donate above; just by saying no, I’ve added my muted voice to the armies of concerned white collars fighting the tyranny of the poor and the threat of the dispossessed to take from us what we’ve inherited by blood, race or class.
If the acronym OWS will ever stand for something important again, it’d be not for Occupy Wall Street but Owning Without Shame. After all, it’s has never been so good being rich in America.

(*) Originally published on Dec. 28, 2013.

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