Saturday, February 24, 2007

All about the giver

A colleague sent this out a week ago. She's a fresh-faced, friendly, popular white American woman, a grad student representative and, I think, a student of transcultural history.

I just wanted to let people know that in the office there is a small box sitting on the fridge from the "Operation Rice Bowl" which is designed for overseas projects, such as bringing clean water to communities, providing basic health care etc. The box is there for people to put their spare change in it if they choose to do so. No pressure, just wanted everyone to know that the box was there if people wanted to help out. (I know many of us get annoyed carrying pennies around...those are welcome too!). It is a Catholic Relief Services-run project, so in case there are people who have any problems giving to religious organizations I thought I'd let you know.


I have always maintained, and still do, that Americans are generous and trendsetters when it comes to philanthropy. But this e-mail annoyed me, because it's almost apologetic for suggesting that people give, and because it suggests that the receptacle is for trash or something you want to get rid of, rather than for giving what you owe. I happen to be one of those "overseas" people. The fact that our communities are in need of basic healthcare, clean water, etc. has had, and has, much to do with profits in the US and Europe, today and yesterday.

Having read my Foucault, I feel I must not respond with complete silence, but at the same time, I don't know how to respond. Sigh!

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