For the most part I think of only myself. I spend time pondering on my daily activity, my comfort and my own problems. I worry about my own challenges, my health and, in short, my life.
I have held out a faint hope that most other people operate the same manner, but I ruefully suspect that this is not the case. I have a sneaking suspicion that almost everyone else is a champion of one cause or another. This one goes to Africa on a regular basis, that one volunteers at the Food Bank, the other one enters at least two Rides for Cancer every year.
The list goes on.
I console myself with the fact that I send money every month to a behemoth NGO with the fly-covered face of a frightened child in Darfur. I pray that the child-scrawled letters and photographs I get back are not fake, all the while knowing deep down that the money actually spills into a regional pot with at least 10% taken off for administration and does not directly benefit the woebegone waif on my brochure.
I can live with myself, I can deal with my rue, I can smother my suspicion … most days.
But … there are other days.
Like the day I hear about the university student who dumpster-dives in her ‘spare time’, then takes the food home and cooks fantastic hot meals to take the homeless on the Downtown East side of Vancouver.
Talk about making it hard on the rest of us! The nerve!
I confess my first thought in this regard is: “How can these people find the time to do this?”
My second thought is: “There must be something wrong with them.”
Naturally, my third thought is: “No, there must be something wrong with me.”
That’s when I look at my personalized Christmas card sent to me by the NGO with the encouragement to return it signed to my sponsored child and oh yes, “please send more money to Little Hussein so his family can buy a goat for his birthday”, and realize…. It just isn’t enough.
It is never enough.
I suspect that it’s never enough for the other wonderfully altruistic souls, either. In fact it might be what drives them. It’s like Oskar Schindler saying, “I could have gotten one more person … and I didn’t!”
More. Just one more. Always just one more.
No, my life is not altruistic, it is a selfish one. I can never measure up to the other saints of whom I write.
But we all have the one thing in common: no matter how much we can do or want to do, it will never be enough.
However little our contribution may be, it is something. And something is better than the alternative.
I think. I guess. I hope.