Saturday, September 7, 2013

Can we really save the world?

I'm sure most people (at least in the US) have experienced that phone call, or even series of phone calls, from various telemarketing organizations - usually at dinnertime. For a long time, my phone was unlisted and then added to the national Do Not Call Registry. However, what I did not know was that you have to renew your registration every so often. That was discovered recently when I started receiving those phone calls from various groups soliciting donations to their oh-so-worthy causes - usually around dinnertime. So I immediately went back and registered again with the Do Not Call list so as to stop them as it only took a few calls before I started to adopt a brusque response to anyone who dared to call and tried to guilt me into a donation - and that was when I even bothered to answer the phone.

Frankly, I think the solicitors must have been used-car salespeople in their former lives. They pushed for hard sells suggesting that I should absolutely consider donating to their charities as they were obviously assisting so many poor and disadvantaged. Additionally, they used names that revolved around things like the families of policemen slain in the line of duty and children with cancer. Now, these all sound like very fine causes and I am not averse to helping people who are suffering from these or any of the others that were soliciting my donations. However, I am loathe to do anything for a group that calls me out of the blue (particularly when I thought my number had been blocked) and starts their pitch by aggressively asking if I don't feel bad for the poor people upon whose behalf they are calling and wouldn't I like to donate some money to help them? Of course I should and would I please allow them to send me a donation card to my home address and then I can send them whatever I feel like? What next, should I give them my credit card number over the phone? Or maybe they can just send me an email with some official looking link to their oh-so-legitimate (and obviously oh-so-secure) website where I can donate money either from my credit card or bank account?

No, I don't think so.

Don't get me wrong. I actually want to do my part to help others in this world. I have been known to see people whose cars have died on them in the middle of the road and pull over so that I can help them to push their car off and then wait until a tow-truck or the police can arrive to assist them further (let's just say that personal experience taught me this is an awesome thing to do when someone - e.g. me - is stuck). I donate money to very specific charities that I have worked with for years - SmileTrain and the American Cancer Society are two that I feel very strongly about - and with whom I or people I care about have experience in the causes they champion. I donate time to charities that I feel strongly about. I receive a variety of solicitations from other organizations asking for assistance via snail and e-mail and judiciously choose those I can help and those that don't really have an impact on me, my family or community. But I cannot save the world and I do not wish to be guilted into thinking I can or should. If I feel strongly enough about it, I will do something about it. Calling to harass me and my family isn't going to make your cause look more attractive to me and encourage me to support those you propose to assist - especially in an age where there are so many fraudulent groups/individuals who seek to take advantage of the kindness of others (particularly in times of tragedy).

I am only one person and I want to help. But I also have limits. If I'm going to help save the world, then it'll happen one person at a time as I can. And not at dinnertime.