The Spirit of Giving

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I’ve eliminated “Christmas”. I won’t be buying gifts beyond simple stocking stuffers for family this year because we’re adults. It becomes a mixture of risk of getting the wrong thing, and having to gamble on whether something will be of equal or greater value to what that person gets me. We’re adults now; if we don’t have the means to get the things we want, that’s our responsibility. And the materialism of gift-giving is a known evil. We should be honest, and say it’s pointless to continue buying into this lie of presents being at the heart of the holiday spirit.

This frees up a few hundred bucks. I don’t really need anything with that saved money. What I want should be spaced out over time, if I want to take higher ground. What is there to do, then, with money?

  • The “Rolling Jubilee” movement, started by the Occupy Wall Street collective. This is donating money to buy debt from lenders for a lower price than was originally lent – because they are guaranteed a minor payoff as opposed to the debtor going into bankruptcy – and forgiving that debt. The kind of debts purchased are student loans or medical bills, highlighting things that are basic parts of civilized societies and yet drive people into financial ruin. Donating even $20 can relieve sufferers of hundreds of dollars owed.
  • Local charities. To make up for my lack of acting on an obvious solution to a person’s obvious need with last week’s jacket fiasco, I need to kick myself in the ass and ensure the basics are met for the people who live around me. Winter wear, food, and funding for shelters are obvious needs that nobody in a wealthy society like Canada should have unfulfilled. A jacket is the ounce of prevention.
  • International charities. Even other wealthy countries, like the US, have their people-in-need, like the New York/New Jersey victims of Superstorm Sandy. Girls’ education in misogynistic societies like areas of Pakistan where an outspoken girl named Malala got shot in the head for advocating for girls’ right to go to school. There are unfortunately no shortages of injustice or suffering, and as my extended health insurance paid entirely for a new set of contact lenses I have doubly no excuse to pretend I’m blind.
  • Microloans. As implied in the first point, I find the financial sector is loaded with bullshit and it’s unhealthy to put people in deep and haunting debt – but that $50 can turn around a family’s life across the world, and will be returned for me to lend again is a far superior financial system to bring poorer families in poorer countries to prosperity. An added benefit is that this empowers mostly women, who are often neglected by resources in their home country on the path to a thriving economy.

I’m still going to spend on myself. All of these only call for modest individual contributions. The back-patting is only secondary to visible differences as movements are recorded through mass media, through continued personal involvement, or through changes in immediate surroundings. I’m writing this not asking for advice on which to choose because I should contribute to all. It’s just more of a kick in the ass to put it out there that I acknowledge charity I can give. Enforce me to live up to this.

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