On Charity

Dear Malin Reese,

Sarah Mclachlan has an impressive set of pipes. She can also pen a song with the best of them. “Possession” is a masterpiece. The Lilith Fair was one of the most successful concert series of the 90’s and she produced it and was the headline act. If I were a 20-something female back in 1998 I might have even attended a show. By all accounts, I’m a big fan, which is why 5-6 times a year it’s hard for me to admit I find Sarah Mclachlan to be the worst person on the planet…

A few years ago I was sitting on the couch watching T.V. minding my own business when she popped up on the screen. She was curled up on a sofa with her arms around a beautiful dog. I thought it was just another dog food commercial until the maudlin sound of her song “Arms of an Angel” began to play. My instincts betrayed me and I continued to watch as scenes of severely abused and malnourished animals, shaking in the corners of their kennels, filled up the screen. It was the longest, saddest two minutes of television I had ever watched. Turns out it was an ASPCA commercial, imploring people to give money for the sake of animal welfare. The commercial, equal parts heartbreaking and manipulative, succeeded. I went online, did a little research on the ASPCA and donated some money to them. Now any time that commercial comes on I either frantically look for the remote to change the channel or gather all of my credit cards and throw them towards the T.V. sobbing, “Take it all, Sarah Mclachlan! I hate you!”

This brings me to the subject of charity. I think about it a lot and have been trying really hard to make sense of what it means to me. Here’s what I can tell you; from a broad perspective, I don’t think it’s reasonable to expect any person to always “walk the walk” when it comes to being charitable. Your head will spin if you try and sift through the endless amount of worthy causes/charities/organizations that exist.

So don’t start broadly. Start small. Be charitable to the tight-knit community that surrounds you with love every day. Pay them back in kind. This will help tune how charitable in spirit you become.

Be charitable with your time. This can be as simple as lending a shoulder to cry on or as big as helping to build a house for a family in need of shelter. Often times, this is the most challenging charity for people to offer. We all live busy lives, so the moment we have a reprieve from the grind of responsibility, there is a natural tendency to devolve into mindless activity, like reading this article about 13 potatoes that look like Channing Tatum.

If you’re able, be charitable with your money. Sometimes cash is king when you’re trying to help out. This can often offer the most direct impact. Just make sure you know who/what you’re giving your money to. There are some people/charities that accept money with the worst of intentions. Be smart about it.

Long-winded letter short, Sarah Mclachlan made your Dad cry and charity, of all iterations, is good.




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