Thursday, January 14, 2010

On Haiti, Charity and Rock and Roll

In my heart, I'm a charitable person. Often though, I lack the time and - of course - the money to donate. Yet I'm seeing a big push, and an enormous amount of guilt (from no one particular party but several) being thrown towards pushing people to donate for recovery efforts in Haiti (among other things).

Now let's be clear. The earthquake is obviously devastating. Who is to argue? There may be upwards of 100,000 dead. Of course, I'm also big on believing we need to help ourselves here at home. Unemployment rates are where? Still high, folks. Gas prices are what? Yep, high again. Homeless issues, health care troubles, blah blah blah.

How are things in New Orleans? Rebuilt, or swept under the rug? Heck of a job.

You get the idea. And this is NOT to minimize the problems in Haiti, so please spare me. Further, this is being written with no political agenda - at all. Again, save your breath, and my blood pressure.

I'm just saying, people have priorities, and times are still tough. Go easy.

I take the guilt very seriously. Often it's not directed at me, but just the same, I read it or hear it and it strikes me. Now some of that is my own issue, and best for another day. And I understand that there are many "fat cats" out there that can open their wallets, but choose not to for whatever reasons. Karma will deal with them.

Sometimes, all one has is their prayers (or as I say, "thoughts"). To many, that's an excuse for laziness. Point taken, and understood. We're also not going down some deep philosophical highway here.

Again, read all of this carefully because reading is fundamental. "RIF", as our Saturday morning cartoons used to tell us. I'm not - repeat NOT - minimizing Haiti. I'm simply asking all to stop and think before they run around imposing their vibe on others.

So what can we do? Read this wonderful piece from Gabrielle Medecki at the Wolfgang's Vault Blog. If you don't know,
Wolfgang's Vault is the best place on the web to experience live music. We stream (for free!) concerts from the biggest names in music from the 1960s through today; many of the concerts are also available for download. - from the "About" portion of their blog
Now, you're asking, "what does a music blog have to do with Haiti?" And I'm going to say, "RIF!" Did you read the blog piece? Let's look at this:
...effective immediately, 25% of all sales on Wolfgang’s Vault over this next week will be donated directly and immediately to the Red Cross for Haitian Relief.
Well played. If you wish to buy some great classic concerts and other goodies, they'll donate some bucks. But it's this piece that I thought was so amazing:
Additionally, we know many people are suffering their own financial hardships at this time, and the purchase of an item this week that automatically provides the 25% in proceeds to the cause may not be feasible. And since we greatly value and appreciate every one of our members and friends, we have also decided to make a donation on behalf of every site visitors for this week.

For every visitor who spends an hour at a time on Wolfgang’s Vault in the coming week, we will donate 5 cents to the same Haitian Earthquake Relief fund — applicable to up to 5 visits per person for the week. (Because this is something we haven’t tried before, we are trying with these limitations to make sure it doesn’t attract hackers and spammers.) It’s intended as a good faith plan on behalf of our friends and customers to donate as much money as possible.
Brilliant! Even those of us who lack the necessities can now do some good. I can point my browser to Wolfgang's Vault and listen to any number of concerts and feel like I'm donating.

And yes, for those asking, they do have some Huey Lewis, including when he was in a band called Clover.

Sometimes it just takes a little thought. Walking with Tim Parry a few months back for Diabetes was a very good thing. Pointing a browser to a web site is as easy as it gets.

Rock and Roll has always been charitable. Hey - Live Aid happened 25 years ago this year, and spurred the creation of Farm Aid. So get listening, and rock on.

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