It's Sunday morning and I am sitting here far too early (can't sleep) with a cup of coffee. The cup of coffee in question is freshly ground and made Kona coffee, $24.99 per measly little pack, and the best proof in this house that I am both a snob and a yuppie. This is unfortunate, since I am also quite poor.
There is something ludicrous about saying that you're poor as you whip out the credit card to buy more Christmas presents, as you sit in your well-situated and comfortably equipped apartment having just paid rent and sipping your expensive coffee. It is even more preposterous as I try (with very mixed results) to raise money to help torture survivors get the care and help they need. There is such a discrepancy between my reluctant fundraising and their predicament. You know, there is something both easier and harder about raising money for people whom you can look in the eye. On the one hand, I see, without the shadow of a doubt, that it matters. That it brightens peoples dark, dark lives. On the other hand, it is much harder to tell a sentimental story to win folks over for your cause; the story is not mine, and to make it sentimental and uplifting deprives it of some of its real hard edges. It's America, people tell me, where you don't want to remind people of unpleasant things when you want their money.
It also deprives me of some of my excuses, which is how I get to be fundraising in the first place - I hate fundraising, did I mention that? But when you see it up close, you either do what you can or walk away.
Here's what I don't tell people when I ask for their money: part of why I do this is because these folks I try to help pay, the psychologists and social workers, the whole organisation, they are a bright spot in my life too, proof that there are warm-hearted people who work in a spirit of co-operation, and more importantly, that a hug and some compassion will go a long way toward better things.
But now I feel guilty when I buy a $22 best-t-shirt-of-all-times for the Spouse. Because I could be putting it to better use. Guilt is a bad motivation though, and survivors like fun too. Fun, also when you find it unexpectedly on a Friday night in the form of a Jonathan Coulton concert and you realise that not only are you a yuppie and a snob, you are also a geek. Thanks, Whil Wheaton. Maybe I should donate concert tickets instead.