A call to active giving

While we sip on our Aquafina and mindlessly check our Facebook comments during lecture, millions of impoverished women and children trek back and forth from their homes to water holes in order to fulfill a most basic need.

According to Nuru International, a non-profit organization whose Be Hope to Her campaign raises money for those without access to clean water, women and children in developing countries make multiple 25-minute-per-way water trips a day.

On April 13, ASU is hosting a Be Hope to Her fundraiser walk in which students will carry five-gallon buckets of water on their heads, while walking half a mile to the water source and half a mile back.

I was thrilled to hear that such a meaningful event would be taking place on campus and I really wanted to help.

But then, I thought, it’s at 11 a.m. and it’s pretty hot at that point … I don’t know if I really want to get all sweaty.

Realizing the awful thing I had admitted, I contemplated how much we’re willing to give up in order to help people whose faces we will never see in places we will never go.

Many people tend to do charitable things because some entrepreneur made it easy to funnel funds to and from a bank account at the touch of a button, or because a company decided they’d sacrifice 1 to 5 percent of their profits in order to encourage you to make a charitable purchase.

Recall the astonishing generosity of citizens in the wake of the Haitian earthquake. Cell phone companies allowed customers to text five numbers and instantly make a donation to relief efforts.

Undoubtedly a great invention, yes, but it also forces us to critically assess whether we would have been as generous if it hadn’t been so easy.

In addition to increased ease, socially conscientious consumerism is on the rise. Many brands now promise to donate a small portion of their profits to an organization if you buy their product — and we all pat ourselves on the back for making a morally superior purchase.

But do we deserve such ego stroking? Not really.

Reality is, we could go home and donate the whole cost of the item to whatever the cause may be. But then we’d have to give up something we want, a practice most people aren’t particularly fond of.

So, as largely safe, well-fed and equal citizens of the United States of America, are our giving practices as charitable as they could be?

Why not challenge our comforts? Forgo some of the luxuries that are unthinkable in the developing world, such as $5 drinks or $30 pedicures, to provide aid to our fellow humans. Better yet, volunteer in the places where people are in need.

Let’s move on from convenient charity.

I’ll forget my distaste for midday sweatiness in order to fight for the lives of impoverished women and children across the globe.

Will you?

Becky would love to hear of your active volunteering. E-mail her at rrubens1@asu.edu

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