If you're running short on time and fear you might not be able to make it through this post make I make the following suggestion: find yourself a can of mace, spray yourself directly in the eyes and then slap yourself in the face. This will be about as enjoyable as reading the post and probably a bit quicker. Because, you see, I Have A Cause.
Today I saw Tim Costello, of World Vision Australia, speak. I wasn't much looking forward to it because it was a work schmoozefest and (as predicted) I was stuck next to a complete gimp and given a lamb chop to gnaw on, thanks to a small oversight on the veggo side of things. But as it turned out it was three hours well spent because Costello gave a great speech. There was nothing in there most of us haven't heard before - why the wealthy western world has a moral and economic obligation to help the third world, how simple such help could be, how ridiculous the choices are that we make when we choose a larger flat screen over helping to save someone's life - but he boiled it down in a nice way to the point that I felt like empty my wallet as well as being close to tears. (Although there is a chance the latter may have been the fact I was running on two hours sleep at the time).
He also used the phrase 'lottery of latitude' - a lottery all of us won because we weren't born in a third world country or into extreme poverty. It's a pretty obvious concept but it's also pretty amazing if you start thinking about the kind of life we could all be living (or not as the case may well be) if we were born in certian parts of Africa, Asia or South America.
Costello also drew a comparison between third world poverty and a beggar on the street. When you see a beggar, he said, I think you all feel something, some sort of tug on your conscience. Even if you keep walking and don't give him anything it has an effect on you. (Considering it was a business lunch I wasn't entirely sure he had the fat cats convinced but whatever). Why then? he asked, don't we feel the same way when we ignore third world poverty and turn away from people in just as much, if not far more, need? The answer is, of course, that it is because we can't see them but that's completely fucked really.
I tend to think of myself as a reasonably caring person - I give to this charity or that, I do tend to give beggars coins if I have them, I buy the bloody Big Issue and have conversations at dinner parties about gosh how darned awful some people have it. And all that means precisely fuck all. The reality is that I spend more money on books in a month than I do on charity. I probably spend more on stockings and I certainly spend more on mochas. Is a hot beverage more satisfying than helping to improve the life of someone I can't meet or speak to on the other side of the world? It's an absurd idea. But does it matter? Will it stop me from buying my morning mocha tomorrow? We shall see but I doubt it.
What it won't stop me doing, however, is signing up to World Vision and the entire purpose of this post is, obviously, to encourage you to do the same, or at least to do a bit of Christmas shopping on their website. Seriously, dudes, don't tell me you don't have the money.
NOTE: First poetry and now charity, Je-sus. Tell you what - donate to WV and I'll try to crack a joke sometimes. Or um, at least find a really, really hot picture of James Franco... sans pantaloons.