Your brother buys a new car. Would you:
a) Ask how much mileage it gets?
b) Ask if he got a good deal on it?
c) Ask why he didn’t give the money to charity instead?
Your friend gets a face lift. Would you:
a) Tell her how natural it looked and ask who her doctor is?
b) Pretend you didn’t notice, because that would imply it’s so natural you couldn’t tell she’d had surgery?
c) Ask why she didn’t give the money to charity instead?
Perhaps those are unrealistic examples. Anyone who answered c) to either question would likely be barred from family events and probably wouldn’t have any girlfriends.
But you get my point. It’s only when you’re being charitable in the first place that people think they have the right to question where your largesse (or smallesse) is directed.
How perverse is that?
These thoughts were inspired by the hullabaloo over Patrick “the Miracle” Dog (just Google those terms if you haven’t heard of him). I have my own problems with that; I’ll blog about them separately. But here I’d like to address only the supreme chutzpah of questioning other people’s charitable choices — in this case, people who insist only human causes are worthy.
Well, then, which human causes? Only the ones that affect young people? If so, what’s the cutoff age for the term “young”? Cures for diseases pose similar dilemmas. Do you contribute to research to diseases like ALS because they’re particularly debilitating, or cancer, because it affects more people?
I’d venture to say most people’s choices are purely emotional — and very personal to them, down to whether they are more moved by horrific images or happy ones.
Are there valid questions to ask other people about their charitable urges? Of course. You can question whether a friend’s money is going to the place she thinks it is going to. An excellent example of this type of critique appeared recently on the Doggie Stylish blog, which made a strong case for Why You Shouldn’t Support the HSUS.
But questioning someone’s heart? What gives you the right?