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Three score and ten or more

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Cynical? ME???

I have been watching, as most of us have, the events in Haiti.  The pictures of children with terrible injuries, groaning elders, people wandering aimlessly from place to place, as if knowing that they must go somewhere, but have no idea where, or why.  These are images that tear at our souls.  I would give almost anything that would really help, but if seventy five plus years has taught me anything, it is that all this pain is being watched with glee by a bunch of scavengers that make jackals look like gentlefolk.

We Mormons read a scripture that has real application to this time (If you really hate Mormons, skip to the next blog now)  In Mosiah, a book of the Book of Mormon, the fourth chapter and sixteenth verse it says

“And also, ye yourselves will succor those that stand in need of your succor; ye will administer of your substance unto him that standeth in need; and ye will not suffer that the beggar putteth up his petition to you in vain, and turn him out to perish.

17. Perhaps thou shalt say: The man has brought upon himself his misery; therefore I will stay my hand , and will not give him of my food, nor impart unto him of my substance that he may not suffer, for his punishments are just----

18 But I say unto you, O man, whosoever doeth this, the same hath great cause to repent; and except he repenteth of that which he hath done, he perisheth forever, and hath no interest in the kingdom of God

19.  For behold, are we not all beggars?  Do we not all depend up on the same Being, even God, for all the substance which we have.. . ..?”

Mormons think a lot about this scripture, though there are some who say, “Heck, as long as I contribute to appropriate charities I have taken care of my obligations.”

I am not that way, I take that scripture personally and seriously,  and as a result, over the years, I have made it onto every sucker list (sucker, not succor) in the country.  IN addition, if you come up to me and tell me that you are broke and need five bucks, If I have five bucks, you will get it.  Someone also has passed my address (my old one, not my present one because I live too far out in the country) to every down on his luck guy in the county.  My old house was mowed, weeded, cared for by a bunch of guys (One, named Carl, really owned my franchise and passed it around) who, if they couldn’t spot something they could do and get paid, were quick to knock on my door with “Hey, I was just wondering, could you lend me a little money today/”.

Nobody ever stood on a street corner with a sign that I could get to without causing an accident, without getting a few bucks if I had them.  I have never resented the fact that I knew that some of them were using that money to buy drugs, booze, or whatever, but I did  (and do) what I think is right.  And some of them needed a meal.  It was not uncommon for one of them, after getting five or six bucks to ask me to give him a lift to the nearest Chinese-all you can eat- Buffet. (and get it, much to the distress of some Buffet owners.)

What bothers me is a lot of money grubbing folks running adds on TV and giving five or ten percent (if anything) to the “cause of the day”.  I think my first cynical thought arose when an acquaintance with a  of mind told of an experience with the Red Cross relating to a hurricane in Texas/  He had a friend whose home was totally destroyed in the hurricane.  He wanted to help his friend but knew that the friend would not accept help directly from him.  He went to the Red Cross and asked that if he gave them five thousand dollars, would they relay it to his friend.  The agreed, he gave them a check and was very happy, until some six months later he discovered that the Red Cross had only given his friend about half of the sum.  Angered, he went to the Red Cross, who explained that they had to take out “administrative expenses'”

I love the Save the Children Federation.  My oldest daughter was adopted from a Save the Children orphanage in Finland.  They were wonderful, but my appreciation dimmed several years later when I watched  a commercial on TV for a “Save the Children” situation which feature a woebegone little girl in some South American slum.    About six months later, I was doing my job, trying to get some of my theatre students signed up with an agent, when I noticed a “9X12” on his table.  I had to ask the source of the “9X12” and discovered that this picture was of one of his modeling clients.  You guessed it, it was the woebegone little girl from the Save the Children commercial.  they still got my money for a long time, but somehow it wasn’t the same.

I went for years giving money to Police Organizations of various kinds (they call around Christmas) until I discovered that most of them distributed less than thirty percent to the folks who needed help.  I still contribute, and will to my dying day to the Georgia Sheriffs Association for the homes they support for teenagers and sub teen agers, because I have seen the work they do, and have taught their young people in classes.  I have even cut a few PSA Commercials for then over the years (Radio not TV).

I will find a way to send money to Haiti through some source that I trust, but I have become so darn cynical about charitable organizations, and I really hate it.    I confess that I was happier giving money over the phone to organizations when, in my heart,  I knew that the guy in the Boiler Room (the name for telephone solicitation rooms) was taking a big cut to make payments on his BMW, but as I get older, I really want to help, but I want to really help those who need help


At 6:12 AM, Blogger Ed said...

I'm a cynic too when it comes to charities. That is why I usually save it up and give it myself to those in need and bypass the "administration fees."

At 7:16 PM, Blogger Patrick Joubert Conlon said...

I read that the Salvation Army has a big presence in Haiti and I am less cynical about them than the others.

At 11:49 AM, Blogger Sue said...

That's why I do most of my donating through the Church humanitarian fund, because they pay administrative costs out of a different fund set aside for that purpose. This time, though, I did hear enough good things about Food for the Poor and Hope for Haiti that I donated there, too. You can check them all out on charitynavigator.com to see pie charts of how your donations are spent.


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