HBM asked us to write about causes recently, and I try to step up when she calls, since her challenges are interesting, provoke lots of great posts from other bloggers, and, well, I like her.
She asked us to write about causes we espouse, that we are passionate about, that we support.
This doesn't really answer that call, though (don't link up this baby, HBM, it's just me thinking aloud as usual!). You see, the thing is? That call kind of made me squirm uncomfortably.
Because my support comes pretty much in chequebook form right now. I don't feel good about that. I often see ads for two-day walks that seem like a neat thing to do. In a few years - when Pumpkinpie is a bit older, maybe, I tell myself. To be honest, the notion of finding people to sponsor me terrifies me too - having to talk to people, and talk to them about money, scares both my shy self and my WASPish self. Volunteering, too, takes time I'm not up to giving right now, working two nights and every other Saturday away from my little girl already. But I think that on the flip side, I would like to set that example for her some day, the habit of support from more than my wallet, something that costs me more, takes more commitment. Because it's not that I don't think about causes, feel sympathy for those less fortunate, or want to help out. I've been accused of being a bleeding heart before, and argue with people who have little sympathy for others less fortunate, point out how little stands between us "haves" and those with less. I am well aware of the ups and downs of good fortune, be it in the form of good health, mental health, cash flow, or simply having things fall in place for us as we would have them. My husband, in fact, laughs at me (in an affectionate way, he swears) because on road trips, I can't help but mourn for roadkill. (Seriously, it pains me so much that they need to die simply because we're in a rush. They didn't make the roads and the cars.)
Sure, I have signed plenty of petitions and mailed postcards to stop violence against women, protest human rights abuses, or end the whale hunt, as we all have - but that's not really giving, either, not reaching deep down. It might make us feel better, like we are doing something, and maybe it does lead to something, who knows? Letters written to corporations tend to draw a reply thanking me for my interest and promising to look into it. Period. Michael Moore I'm not.
But when I think of the things that have captured my attention or drawn me to give of myself and my time over the years , though, it's always been about kids. In high school, I devoted my summers to volunteering at Sick Kids. I brought them from their wards down to physio and occupational therapy, and I saw some pretty gruesome and heartbreaking things. A boy hit by a train in a high-profile news story, his head held aloft by a halo drilled into his skull and resting on his shoulders. Kids with lower limbs amputated, the foot sewn on backwards at the knee to create the joint to which they would attach prosthetics. Bald cancer patients no older than ten. I loved those kids, loved doing something for them, giving them a bit of fun in an otherwise pretty dreary day. When I cut off my hair years later, I sent it to Wigs for Kids, glad to give some little girl my hair - unruly, but long and thick and heavy. Real girl hair, not cancer patient hair. I volunteer at Christmas time every year as a storyteller and reader for the christmas party at the zoo, something they do for their supporters and their families. What fun that is! But really? This is not much, and is as much fun for me as for the kids I share it with.
But even as I admit how little I really do for causes these days (I know donating is important, but it's not really doing, is it?), I love that my job affords me the ability to make a difference with kids in lots of little ways. When I worked in a library that served a school for deaf children nearby, I started to learn sign language so I could speak with them. I have bought books and supplies for programmes when there were no budgets, prizes for games and contests in an underprivileged area where I knew they didn't get much otherwise, and thrown parties for less fortunate neighbourhoods that I would never attempt at another branch. I keep an eye on the kids who come to the library and stay for hours on end until their parents can pick them up, get to know them a bit so they have a friendly face and someone to talk to when they become worried as it grows late. I donate books to the library, and donate books from the library to schools or let kids who may have nothing to read at home take them, free. I help them find books that they can enjoy, to hopefully give them some reason to become passioante about reading. I teach their parents rhymes and songs and how to pick good books for them. I promote pre-reading skills. I hope this enriches their lives and gives them good connections to literacy and the library that can be so important as they grow.
I know none of this is big, heroic, out-there-supporting-a-cause stuff. Perhaps later I can be that, will be more willing to give that much of myself. But if you ask what I am passionate about? I am passionate about doing what I do, and I love that it lets me make small differences that can lead to great things for small people.
Labels: good deeds