Popularity Contests and Pissing Matches

give-charity-donations

Of all the questions I received about my debut blog, it wasn’t “who is the cocaine user?” or “what merchandise was stolen from what fashion show?” but instead the most commonly asked was “what organizations do you take up issue with?” I won’t say which organization(s) but I will tell you what I have learned. About a year ago, I had to really ask myself “is it really about the charity?” Are these people sitting on these boards really, truly concerned about and motivated by the organization’s mission or are these organizations a platform to step and repeat against a step-and-repeat?

I have served on the boards of several high profile, national organizations, and have been invited to sit on another board this year, to which I said, politely, “no thank you.” I am much better suited physically doing good for people than planning a party where a portion of the proceeds might eventually go for the good of people, maybe. I love animals therefore I rescued two. I love young, budding career-minded people therefore I teach them every day. I believe young people deserve to be educated in a supportive environment free from bullying therefore I demand a shared sense of respect in my own classroom. I love nature and the magnitude of our planet, and therefore I protect my surroundings and contribute to the preservation of the earth in my small way. I believe that the rights of gay people are human rights, therefore I live my life as a respectable gay person to show the world the decency we stand for. What I am getting at here is that my proof is in my own pudding.

A few years ago, when I joined the board of a large networking organization here in Dallas, a friend of mine who was leaving the board warned me that people’s intentions were not what they would initially seem. She cautioned me that an ugly side of people would subversively undermine the true intention of the organization. I didn’t believe her. I joined these organizations because, as I stated above, I love people, I love animals, I love education, I love the environment and I feel compelled to be involved through financial contribution, as well as donation of my time and effort. And then people’s true, self-serving, undermining, ill-intentioned behaviors surfaced.

I couldn’t believe how focused people were on pushing their client’s products and services, pushing their agendas and, ultimately, pushing themselves into the social stratosphere. Call me naïve but weren’t we here to raise money for a worthwhile cause? I was promised to be “head” of one of these organizations in return for the many thousands of dollars I donated and raised, the time I spent on projects related to this organization, and the week’s trip I took to New York for this group. But I just wasn’t popular enough. Perhaps I didn’t have quite enough social currency for the role. Yes I gave more money, yes I donated more time, yes I got more members to join and yes I was as passionate an ambassador to this organization as the next Joe. And, yes, I politely stepped down.

And you know what? It freed me up to wholeheartedly do more good for people! Instead of sitting around a boardroom table, I was spending more time helping my students. Instead of stuffing bags full of “swag,” I was home taking care of my rescue animals. Instead of writing a check for an event where 90% of my donation was likely going to the bar tab and the lighting design, I was using my money to help a worthy recipient go on a once-in-a-lifetime enrichment trip. Instead of attending the next dress-up event, I was using my time to tend to the people and animals and endeavors that needed my care.

Now please don’t misinterpret my message with one broad brushstroke. There are many charities, mainly local ones, which do amazing things. I think of people I met through these not-so-amazing organizations who are off running their own indeed-amazing organizations that really do impact recipients directly. The ones that touch my heart most are the local animal rescues that take in animals that are abused, malnourished and abandoned and nurse them back to health and into their “forever homes.” These are organizations which are doing much good, glamour and party free. I also am particularly touched by those organizations, local and national, which serve as outlets to those young people who are being bullied and traumatized in our nation’s schools. They do some truly courageous work.

I honestly just lost interest in competing with people’s egos and agendas and participating in popularity contests and pissing matches. My ego and I have better things to do.

Advertisements

2 responses to “Popularity Contests and Pissing Matches

  1. Being a bearer of light of much more fulfilling than feeding your ego. You love the same causes that I do! I love and respect you dearly.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s