Tag Archives: giving

Spirit of the Season

Thanksgiving week is a week of mixed emotions for me.  On one hand, I love it because I get to spend some extra time with my family, eat some really great food, watch football (lifelong Cowboys fan…I can’t help it) and spend some extra time focusing on all the things in my life for which I am thankful.  On the other hand I loathe it because this is the time of year that consumerism is running on all eight cylinders with a nitrous boost.  Everybody is spending money we don’t have on things they don’t need (or sometimes want) so that we can show someone just how much we love them.  Our television screens, magazines, newspapers, radio stations and websites are jam-packed with ads for the latest, hottest, fanciest and best products that money can buy.  And don’t forget the stores.  The stores make it so easy for us, don’t they?  Mega deals, door busters, all-nighters, early birds, free shipping and prices so low you have to see them to believe them.  Black freakin’ Friday.

Somehow, we lose sight of what the holiday season is all about (and I don’t mean in the religious sense).  Regardless of what you celebrate this time of year, we are all blinded by the blizzard and we forget that the season is supposed to be about family, about selflessness, about caring and about appreciation.  Instead, many of us focus on what we are going to get rather than what we already have or what we can give to those that are without.

Last year, after Jdimytai Damour was trampled to death in a Long Island Wal-Mart on Black Friday, I woke up.  I realized that even though I was not at that Wal-Mart nor do I ever even shop on Black Friday, I was partly responsible for Damour’s death.  I was a cog in the retail machine that was powering that greedy mob that took his life so they could get a bargain on a waffle maker or a LCD television.  As consumers, we all have tiny specks of his blood on our hands because we continue to measure our self-worth by what we own rather than by what kind of person we are and we continue to buy without giving much consideration of the actual “cost” of our appetite for stuff.  We all, like it or not, bear some responsibility.

So last December, in a moment of clarity, I decided that I no longer would ask for or expect gifts for holidays, birthdays, anniversaries or anything else.  I decided to let my loved ones know that I do not want anything anymore.  What I quickly realized was that while I was trying to do the “right thing” I was depriving people of doing something that made them feel good.  I never looked at it that way before.  I quickly modified my stance on giving me gifts to the following:

“I do not wish to receive any gifts for __________.  If you feel strongly about giving me something please consider making a donation to Responsible Men or choose a charity that is meaningful to you and make a donation in my name.”

I have to admit most of my family did not know how to respond.  I think most didn’t believe me and many decided to buy me things anyway.  I heard things like “yeah…but what to you REALLY want?”   However, some of them did simply make a meaningful (and greatly appreciated) donation.  That was the best feeling in the world knowing that I was able to make a difference (even if it was a small one) in someone’s life by giving up something I never had in the first place.  It was a feeling that I had not had since I was a little boy opening all those gifts that, at the time, meant so much to me.  Ironic, eh?

So, once again I am here to state that in the spirit of the season I do not wish to receive any gifts for the holidays.  However if you feel strongly about giving me something, please consider donating to Responsible Men or choose a charity that is meaningful to you and make a donation in my name.

I would also like to challenge you to join me this year.  Put your own wants aside and see how it feels to help someone else this year.  It may feel like you are making some sort of personal sacrifice, but in the end you will be getting something much more valuable than anything on your wish list.

If you plan to participate in “Spirit of the Season” leave a comment to let me know.  Also, please post a link to this on your Facebook and Twitter pages and encourage your friends and family to participate.  I would love to see this catch fire and spread across the country.  Let’s see how big of an impact we can make this year!

Happy Holidays!

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Give What It Takes

A friend of mine named Brooke posted a quote on Twitter this morning that said “In this world of give and take, there aren’t enough people to give what it takes”. I am not sure if it is an original of hers or just one she liked, but it struck a chord with me. There aren’t enough people out there giving what it takes to create social change. With issues like Sexism, Racism, Poverty, Hate Crimes, Global Warming, Violence, etc. still dominating the social landscape, we have to take matters into our own hands to create change. So, I decided to do something about it. With almost no thought whatsoever I launched the “Give What It Takes Campaign”. It is a very simple idea. On the last day of each month pick a charity or non-profit organization or just a person that is doing some good in the world and give them a little bit of money to do what it takes to accomplish their goals. That’s it. You don’t have to give much. Give what yoiu can afford. But what you do have to do is take a moment to encourage your friends to Give What it Takes as well. If we all chip in, none of us as individuals have to bear the heavy burden of creating social change.

If you are on Twitter, tweet your donation like this:

I gave here today (URL of your charity). #givewhatittakes

You can also check out the other blog I just made. It is givewhatittakes.wordpress.com. I will try to use it to highlight some of the good work going on in the world. If you know of some and would like to see it featured, send me a URL and an explanination of why it’s important to you. I will post it on the blog.

I gave here today http://www.etcc.org/MenAgainstViolence.htm #givewhatittakes

Change just happened.

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The Story of Stuff

Have you seen the video entitled “The Story of Stuff”? I have. If you haven’t, watch it now and then come back to this blog entry and finish reading it. I’ll wait.

Great! Now you will have a better idea where I am coming from. So…stuff…I have too much of it. I bet you have too much of it. AND we are approaching the time of year where we accumulate even more of it. Often times it it stuff we never even wanted in the first place – like the gifts you were stuck with from the the 7 White Elephant (aka Dirty Santa or my least favorite Chinese Christmas) gift exchanges in which you were forced to participate last holiday season. That is just one example. There are plenty more I can assure you.

So…this year I am going to do my part to put an end to it. I am asking everyone in my life that is planning to get me a gift this year to resist the temptation to buy me more stuff. Seriously. I don’t want any more stuff this holiday season or any other for that matter.

I also understand that it feels good to give and we call this the season of giving. I don’t want to be a Scrooge McGrinch…I love this time of year. I just feel like we have lost sight of what it is all about. So, here are a couple of options that I believe are much more in line with what the season is all about:

1. Make a donation to Responsible Men at http://www.responsiblemen.net. I am trying to raise money to attend the Men Can Stop Rape training this July in Washington DC. The total cost will be about $2,000 including the travel, room and board, and the cost of the workshop. I want to go so that I can make Responsible Men a better organization.

2. Make a donation in my name to their favorite charity or cause. Chances are, I like that charity as well. That makes both of us feel good.

The beauty of this is there is no stuff. There is also no plastic packaging, gift box, wrapping paper, plastic bows, tape, ribbon, cards, or any other stuff that just gets trashed anyway.

Imagine if everyone in your family decided to do this. Then imagine if everyone in your family got all of their friends to do the same with their families and so on. Imagine the tremendous amount of good that would come of that. Imagine the power in a movement like that. Imagine what could be accomplished because of that.

Now stop imagining that and start doing it. Make a commitment this holiday season to ask your loved ones to make a donation to something you care about in your name. Offer to do the same for them. Make it a tradition. You never know…you just might change the world in ways you can’t imagine.

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