Tuesday, October 28, 2008

This may be the last entry of mine you want to read. . .

Maybe, after reading this one, you will wash your hands of me forever. (Or maybe not.)

This afternoon I was looking at the mail. We'd received something from a charity organization asking us to "PLEASE HELP!" because "Just $2.23 provides Thanksgiving dinner for someone less fortunate."

Before I really get rolling, let me say that we have donated money and "things" before, and I'm sure we'll do so again, so we're not absolutely horrible people. Ok? So I have your permission to be a little rude, now?

Rude Item #1:

After you've listened a while to Neal Boortz, you never hear the phrase "less fortunate" in quite the same way. (And you'd be amazed how many times you do hear these words-- especially during November and December, here in the U.S.) I'll try not to get too side-tracked, but basically, his opinion is that calling a group of people "less fortunate" implies that the main reason they have less than others is that they had some really rotten luck. In the great lottery of life, they were the losers. In turn, this suggests that those who have done well in life (even if that just means well enough that they're making their own way without relying on hand-outs from the government or charity organizations) have done so only because they were "fortunate"-- lucky. Phrasing like "less fortunate" takes away our sense of responsibility for our own successes or failures in life.

This isn't to say that there aren't some people who truly are dealt a bad hand in life-- though it's interesting to note that so many who honestly are "less fortunate" than the average person (such as those born with disabilities) manage to lead happy, successful lives. Apart from the rare exception, our "fortunes" in life are determined less by luck than by our approach to the world around us. (Perhaps, if you really want to put the blame elsewhere, you can claim that the reason you can't hold down a job and lead a normal life is that you were born with a bad set of genes that predisposed you for risky behavior, etc.-- but I think that's pushing it.)

Well, as a matter of fact, why not let the man explain his opinion in his own words? The following is an excerpt from this "commencement speech" that he wrote years ago but has never actually delivered at a college or university ceremony:
That phrase ["less fortunate"'] is a favorite of the Left. Think about it, and you'll understand why.

To imply that one person is homeless, destitute, dirty, drunk, spaced out on drugs, unemployable, and generally miserable because he is "less fortunate" is to imply that a successful person - one with a job, a home and a future - is in that position because he or she was "fortunate." The dictionary says that fortunate means "having derived good from an unexpected place." There is nothing unexpected about deriving good from hard work. There is also nothing unexpected about deriving misery from choosing drugs, alcohol, and the street instead of education and personal responsibility.

If the Left can create the common perception that success and failure are simple matters of "fortune" or "luck," then it is easy to promote and justify their various income redistribution schemes. After all, we are just evening out the odds a little bit, aren't we?

This "success equals luck" idea the liberals like to push is seen everywhere. Democratic presidential candidate Richard Gephardt refers to high-achievers as "people who have won life's lottery." He wants you to believe they are making the big bucks because they are lucky; all they did was buy the right lottery ticket. What an insult this is to the man or woman who works that 60 hour week to provide for a family.

It's not luck, my friends. It's choice. One of the greatest lessons I ever learned was in a book by Og Mandino, entitled "The Greatest Secret in the World." The lesson? Very simple: "Use wisely your power of choice."

That bum sitting on a heating grate, smelling like a wharf rat? He's there by choice. He is there because of the sum total of the choices he has made in his life. This truism is absolutely the hardest thing for some people to accept, especially those who consider themselves to be victims of something or other - victims of discrimination, bad luck, the system, capitalism, whatever. After all, nobody really wants to accept the blame for his or her position in life. Not when it is so much easier to point and say, "Look! He did this to me!" than it is to look into a mirror and say, "You S.O.B.! You did this to me!"

The key to accepting responsibility for your life is to accept the fact that your choices, every one of them, are leading you inexorably to either success or failure, however you define those terms.
I had a hard time making myself stop there. If you haven't already read the "speech"-- and if you aren't already fuming over the insensitivity of what I did copy and paste (g)-- I suggest you go take a look at the rest of it. I've said before that I don't agree with everything Boortz says-- and he does have a rare gift for being irritating-- but some of his points make a lot of sense.

So, that was the first thing. . .
Now for:

Rude Item #2:

Here's a photo of part of the front of the envelope the organization sent us:

Maybe I'm an all-around bad person because of it, but one of my first reactions to this envelope was, "Is this photo supposed to make me feel the stirrings of sweet charity in my heart?" (Because it, well, didn't.)

Here's a bit of background info: This particular organization is a Christian group specifically intended to help the homeless. So on the one hand, I applaud them for their honest portrayal of the average homeless person-- adult male, unshaven, etc. (You'll see a similar photo on their website, if you Google it.) But on the other hand. . . this photo seems like a poor choice for their envelope, because I think the average initial reaction will be the same as mine. A kind of creepy-looking guy with a grizzled beard, leaning over on his side (what is with that pose?!) and staring at me through slightly narrowed eyes? You people at WRM really know how to pull at my heartstrings! I felt more confused than charitable.

It may be shallow, but it's true.

I feel bad that the organization may get fewer donations than if they'd done a better job on their design. Something other than a-- let's be honest, even if it is mean-- scroungy-looking man might have made a better first impression. Maybe a pair of hands holding a plate of Thanksgiving food? Or an empty plate with a question mark on it? Something-- anything else would've been better, I think. Maybe I should offer to donate my time to help them design their next mailing. Seriously, I'm pretty sure I could've done a better job myself. . . (I really hope whoever designed that never finds this page!)

Well, now that you all know me for the shallow, heartless creature that I am, I guess I'll let the keyboard rest a while. . .