My apologies to the loyal blog readers I have here. I have been rather uninspired of late and my poor blog and readers have been sadly neglected. I will endeavour to put an end to the neglect.
Unfortunately my first post back is not what I had in mind. I am going to have a bit of a rant, but in the nicest possible way. I’m not a person who likes to incite agitation in people nor do I want to start any confrontation, but something made me really sad last night and I want the chance to give my point of view.
On Sunday night I signed up for Shutdown Communication. Basically you make a donation and take a day out from social networking to show your support for Autism. Now I am going to be honest here and say I didn’t read what the premise of the shutdown was all about. I knew the cause was Autism and I figured not communicating was a correlation with autism. I didn’t really delve into it. I didn’t need to. I donated my money to a great cause and took a day out from twitter to write some reports. For me it was as simple as that.
Does this attitude make me a bad person? Am a any less the person I was on Sunday morning? Does the fact that I came back online after 23 hours offline mean I don’t care about autism or that I’m not committed to the cause? I certainly didn’t think so, or that was how I felt until I came back to Twitter.
I signed on and saw a tweet about rather than shutting down we should talk about Autism and I thought this made sense so I RT’d it. I then thought I’d catch up on the day and see what I might have missed out on. This was a mistake. Reading some of the tweets made me feel like I was a really bad person. I felt like I was being disrespectful to all those with autism and all those who have a child with autism. All because I made a donation and stayed off Twitter. I went to bed last night with a heavy heart and in some ways beating myself up a bit about it. I’m like that. I started to wonder if perhaps I am not a good person and as kind and generous as perhaps I think I am.
This morning I woke up feeling annoyed. I was annoyed that I let myself go to sleep feeling so down on myself and annoyed that so much judgement was being made on, what I think was, a very clever fundraiser. I can honestly say that I probably wouldn’t have donated any money to autism this year because it is not something I am constantly exposed to. The fact this campaign drew me and many others in is fantastic. Does this mean I’m not a charitable person? Maybe to those who don’t know me and to those who are heavily involved in Autism charities I could appear to be. I’m not.
Whilst autism does not affect me or my family directly, I do have a really close friend who it affects. My best friend of 43 years, who lives in another state, has an autistic little boy. She goes through so much with him and her life is definitely more difficult than mine. While I am not actively involved in any Autism charities, I will donate or go to a lunch if it appears on my radar. She is amazing, her little boy is amazing and all the mums and autistic children out there are amazing.
I have a mother in law with Alzheimers. This dreadful disease impacts heavily on our family. Her life is a living hell. We all take turns in caring for her – it impacts us all. I’m quite sure none of us have donated to any Alzheimer causes. If someone called us or turned up on the doorstep or if Twitter had a fundraiser I would most definitely donate/particpate. Am I a bad person because I don’t actively seek out this cause that directly affects my family?
I have many friends with breast cancer. One beautiful girl with 2 boys the same age as mine is not going to survive. She is dying. I donate a lot to breast cancer because they are highly visible and whenever I am asked I donate. Does this mean I place more importance on this charity rather than Alzheimers or Autism?
I am heavily involved in homeless causes. I volunteer 3 full days per year for Homeless Connect. I volunteer my time regularly to MC functions hosted by the Lady Mayoress for Brisbane’s Youth in Need. I don’t personally have any relatives or friends who are homeless, but these people move me. They are often the forgotten ones. I give up a lot of my time and am generous in my cash donations to these causes. Many homeless charities are not on anyone’s radar and badly need funds. I am passionate about these charities. Not everyone is. Does this mean I think you are not a good person or have your priorities wrong because you don’t do as much as I do here?
I was sexually abused as a young child. There are many causes out there to help raise awareness and much needed funds to provide help and support. I donate whenever I can to different charities that come up on my radar. I don’t actively seek out these charities. Does this make me a hypocrite? Should my past experiences make me a champion for all child abuse causes?
My youngest son was heavily into drugs for 12 months. We are still walking this tightrope. I don’t volunteer or donate to Drug Arm, however if I was asked to buy a ticket or donate I would. Does this make me a bad person because I don’t commit more to this charity?
Every year Mike and I, or sometimes just Mike, volunteer to take school boys out for the Red Shield Appeal door knock. This is half a day of our time. At Christmas we deliver Salvation Army Christmas presents and hampers to families doing it tough. Another half day out of our time. Do I think people who don’t do this are not as charitable as I am?
I donate money regularly to RSPCA, Project 18, Children’s Oncology Unit, Surf Lifesaving, Boystown, Royal Children’s Hospital and any others that come up on my radar. If you can’t afford to donate money do I think you care any less than I do?
My answer to all those questions is an emphatic NO. We all do what we can, when we can. I can’t always afford to donate, this year has been particularly tough for us financially so my donations are not as much as usual. Doesn’t mean I don’t understand the great work all these charities do. Doesn’t mean I don’t care about the people who benefit from my donations.
What I am trying to say is that all charitable causes are magnificent. They raise much needed finances to help support people who are generally doing it tough. Whether that be through illness, abuse, drugs or homelessness. How they raise this money and awareness I don’t believe should be the subject of heated and at times hateful discussion. Shouldn’t the discussion be about how great it is that the cause has some exposure and they are raising some much needed funds? Charities are constantly looking for ways to draw people in, get people involved. Does it really matter that the shutdown doesn’t fully sit with how Autism affects people? It got people talking, writing lovely posts and donating money. I personally don’t see the problem with that. To draw an analogy, how does “shave for a cure” help people with Leukaemia? It has been a highly successful campaign that encourages people to shave their heads in support for people with Leukaemia. Could this be seen as mocking those who are undergoing such horrendous treatments? Shaving our head is quite meaningless – we aren’t enduring the pain and suffering these people are. In a way we are making fun of something they don’t choose to do? Well that is how it could look if you care to analyse it so deeply. But we don’t, why would we. It’s all about raising funds and awareness. Just the same as yesterday’s shutdown.
Let’s just say FANTASTIC WORK to anyone who has the passion, time and know how to start a campaign that raises awareness and brings in funds. That is what it is all about. Nothing more, nothing less.
I haven’t written this for anyone to attack me, or to tell me how fantastic I am because I help out. I have written it because life is short and rather than judging people for something like this, can’t we all just accept that we all do things differently, have different views and have different reasons to support them, but essentially we are all good hearted and kind of spirit? Well that’s what I would like to believe anyway.