“When You Get, Give.”
Scrolling through Facebook the other morning, I wasn’t emotionally prepared for what I’d come across. Having “liked” the CNN Facebook page, my feed showed me the face of a little 5 year old Syrian boy, covered in ash and blood. After watching the news report I sat dazed, tears streaming. I’ve had a 5 year old boy, I have a daughter who will be 5 in a few years, and at school I see 500 4-5 year olds on a daily basis. Seeing these images-there are no words, and there’s no unseeing them.
I understand, I guess as much as anyone can understand, how fortunate I am, my children are, my students are, and any children living what we refer to as a normal life are. My worst day will likely never compare to an average day in these children’s lives.
I’m an empathic person, but I believe that feeling sympathy or empathy is not enough. Those feelings should encourage anyone who feels them to take action. I saw that little face and wondered what I could do.
As a teenager I can recall my grandparents writing checks to different charities. They lived in a small house and lived very modest lives on one income, but still they gave so often too others. I watched them give their hard earned money to disabled vets, to the Leukemia Society, various shelters, and tithe to the church. In college I interned at the United Way and learned another lesson in giving. While I know that the little I do helps make a difference, I now wonder why I haven’t given much past the boundaries of my city. The deep voice of Maya Angelou blares loudly in my conscience “when you get, give.”
Sadly, my hesitations about giving have been due to reports of charity’s high paid executives. After researching how my money could make a difference globally, I decided on UNICEF, who works in over 190 countries to help the world’s most vulnerable children, including Syrian children like the one we just saw. Signing up to make a monthly donation, I wondered why it took me so long. I’ve spent more on a night out or one trip to a department store than I’ll give in a month, so what’s been the hesitation? Maybe I thought it wouldn’t be enough, that it wouldn’t make a difference, but I’m reminded of “The Starfish Story.” I’m hoping that maybe my small contribution will make a difference to that one.