Jul 04 2011

I’ve seen this brought up in many pages’ com­ments and dis­cus­sions. Many are often the same, “Why sup­port XYZ cause when ABC cause is so much more impor­tant?!!!” (Feel free to insert any cause into either XYZ or ABC. It’s been said of all of them and vice versa.) The truth is this: What­ever cause a per­son sup­ports, it’s often out of a per­sonal con­nec­tion. Not always, but it’s human nature. Spe­cial Olympics has become impor­tant to my mother and sis­ter after dis­cov­er­ing that if my nephew had lived he would have had Downs Syn­drome. A dear friend of mom’s also had breast can­cer, so Susan G. Komen Breast Can­cer Foun­da­tion is another. Some peo­ple take on the cause of their favorite celebri­ties. That’s why celebri­ties attach their names to what­ever cause is impor­tant to them. (*Side­note: Even if you are going to take on the cause of *your* celebrity, it’s a good idea to find out the details of that cause for your­self. PETA is a great exam­ple of this — many celebri­ties still endorse PETA, although some­where along the way their mis­sion changed. If you believe in a no-kill nation for our pets, PETA might not be the cause for you.)

Another truth that may be dif­fi­cult to under­stand for some: XYC Cause is just as impor­tant as ABZ and AYX is just as impor­tant as ZBC. Entire lives have been changed from school­child­ren rais­ing pen­nies. No con­tri­bu­tion is too small, whether it’s money, vol­un­teer­ing or sim­ply tak­ing a moment out of your time to share with oth­ers. Thanks to the advances of social media, when one per­son shares some­thing, it has the poten­tial to reach thou­sands — and if a sin­gle life is impacted or changed for the bet­ter from those thou­sands, it was well worth that mouse click. I have my two cats because of just such a click.

When I worked for cor­po­ra­tions where we could donate to the cause of our choice, I always chose St. Jude. I never really had a rea­son, there was just some­thing spe­cial about them that I wanted to help. Per­haps it was the Patron Saint of Hope­less Causes that gave me a lit­tle bit of hope.

What’s most impor­tant to me are the causes that sup­port what should be basic rights for all and the ones for those that can’t speak for them­selves. You will never con­vince me that sav­ing the ani­mals that are dis­as­ter vic­tims isn’t equally impor­tant to sav­ing the peo­ple because in my opin­ion sav­ing the ani­mals saves their own­ers too. I cried while wit­ness­ing bus dri­vers refus­ing to allow pets onto buses car­ry­ing peo­ple to safety from Kat­rina. Some of the peo­ple those bus dri­vers turned away lost their lives. How did that help any­one? (And I’m proud of the TEXANS who refused to obey that life-threatening “rule” and turned the other way when they saw a wig­gling coat or a tail stick­ing out.) Just as with Kat­rina, the peo­ple of Joplin, MO lost not only their homes but many lost their pets as well. Bring­ing their pets home to them, safe and sound, is almost the only hope some of these peo­ple have left. How can that not be impor­tant? Hope is the one shin­ing light that keeps us all going for­ward to the next day.

*Warn­ing: The sto­ries in these links are HEARTBREAKING. I read that the dog at the end of the video is ok and was returned safely to her fam­ily.

I do it for herMy own rea­son for the res­cue and safety of ani­mals is my own sweet Sassy. When I spent weeks in the hos­pi­tal (and even the doc­tors weren’t sure that I would go home), Sassy did not give up watch­ing and wait­ing for me. When I came home, noth­ing could keep her from my side. When I suf­fered severe depres­sion, hav­ing her with me was the only thing that kept me alive more days than I can count. Ani­mals have qual­i­ties that many humans will never pos­sess — the abil­ity to love uncon­di­tion­ally; to always know when you’re sick, sad or in trou­ble; and to never ever give up.

The other “causes” that are impor­tant to me shouldn’t be causes at all. We should not have to fight for them. They are basic human and civil rights. A child should not be afraid to go to school for fear of being bul­lied. A cou­ple in love should not be for­bid­den to marry and have chil­dren. A sick per­son should not be turned away from get­ting health care because they hap­pen to earn less money than every­one else. Every sin­gle per­son I have ever met who is “against” these rights for oth­ers either is not impacted by it per­son­ally, or worse, already has the PRIVILEGE that they would deny oth­ers. Every. One. These are not priv­i­leges, how­ever. These are RIGHTS that should not be denied ANYONE.

I had an encounter with a bully the other day. As I sat there, about to bite my lip and not speak up to her, a friend’s voice sounded in my ears. “These are the peo­ple who breathed life into Hitler. And because of those who did not speak up, because of those who said ‘Ignore it and it will go away. What harm can one man pos­si­bly do any­way? What harm can it do to let them speak their minds about some­thing so point­less?’, it brought about the great­est evil of the 20th Cen­tury.” I’m para­phras­ing into my own words, but my friend and her coun­try were per­son­ally impacted by those who turned and looked away. How can I NOT stop that from hap­pen­ing again? Here in my own coun­try where today we’re cel­e­brat­ing a vic­tory that stated “ALL men are cre­ated equal.” I have other friends who are per­son­ally impacted by this bully’s words, while she, her­self is allowed the “priv­i­lege” of what she would deny to them. I will not blind my eyes to the truth. I will not blind my eyes to the bul­lies of the world any more. I will fight, even though it becomes emo­tional for me; even though I might do it wrong some­times; even though it may never make a dif­fer­ence. I will fight the bul­lies. And I won’t back down.

If you have any human­ity in you, this story will bring you to tears (And some of the com­ments may bring you to anger. I ask that you please not read those. The story of this fam­ily speaks vol­umes against them already.) I wish I had known Andrew. Read­ing his words, I feel like I do. I feel like he was my voice. He believed what I believe. “What we dream we become.”

” … I hope my son didn’t die for human beings, for Amer­i­cans, for Min­nesotans who would deny him civil rights.”
~Jeff Wil­fahrts

As an Amer­i­can, I can promise you Mr. Wil­fahrts. He didn’t.