Thursday, October 23, 2014

Is It Possible To Care Deeply About Everything?

If you’ve spent more than about five minutes here at Sweet Tea Reads, you’ve probably picked up on the fact that I’m a supporter of animal rescue.  I have a few other causes that are near and dear; Alzheimer’s, cancer, the American Liver Foundation, and things relating to the emergency services/first responders (if you’ve been around for a while you probably know why those are the things I really care about).  
I’m not saying that I just don’t care at all about other causes.  They just aren’t really button pushers for me.  They don’t ignite passion or anger.  I mostly find myself thinking “that’s terrible” or “I’m glad someone is working on that” and then going on with my day.  Maybe that makes me really horrible.  I like to think it all balances out because the things I care deeply about are maybe the things that make some other people think “that’s terrible” or “I’m glad someone is working on that” before going on with their day.
Nick and I have talked about this a lot over the years.  He has a few near and dear causes as well, and for the most part ours line up very well.  We choose very few causes to support financially as we’re able, he spends almost all of his volunteer time with the fire department, and I spend almost all of mine doing something related to animal rescue.  We both have a different place we want to volunteer at once we’re retired, and it’s one of the things we’re looking forward to when retirement finally comes. 
We both think that with limited time and resources it makes sense to focus on the things that really matter to us.  Now, I’m not saying that we refuse to support other causes.  I can think of only a few causes that either of us adamantly refuse to support.  We’re both on board with saying yes whenever a cashier asks if we’d like to donate to this or that cause as long as it’s not one of the few we refuse to support.  We both will usually chip in a little if a friend or co-worker is raising money with some sort of walk or run.  I think the difference is that when it’s not one of “our” causes we have to be asked, and we do/give a lot less.  I’m okay with that because I know it’s not that we’re being stingy, it’s just that we support something else instead.
I’ve had conversations with friends over the years who just don’t understand or agree with this approach.  They view caring more about one cause as not caring at all or enough about another.  Or they make the argument that anyone putting forth the effort for their cause deserves just as much consideration for that cause. 
Most recently this conversation has been with my sister.  She has recently become very involved with a cause through one of her very close friends. It’s a really good cause, and I’m proud of them for really acting like grownups and working hard at something important.  It’s a good cause. It’s just not one that really pushes my buttons or inspires a lot of passion or anger.
My sister doesn’t understand this.  She has asked me to do a few things related to this cause.  I’ve declined a few, and done a few, though apparently not with the energy and zeal she expected.  I finally tried to tell her that while I really respect what she’s doing it’s just not something I’m as passionate about.  She doesn’t understand this.  She makes the argument that caring deeply about and working hard for her cause doesn’t have to take away from any of mine.
I just don’t agree.  There are only 24 hours in a day; time spent doing one thing typically means less time spent doing something else.  Monetary donations are also limited; a donation to one cause means no donation to another cause.  Therefore I choose to donate the bulk of my time and resources to the causes I care deeply about.  I’m just one person, and I don’t seem to have the time, resources, or energy to do it all. 
What about you?  Do you think it’s wrong to be much more passionate for some causes than others?  Or do you choose carefully?  I’d love to hear your thoughts. 


  1. I guess I am a real grinch, I do not give to every cause that comes along, and I don't volunteer for anything. I have a couple of interests and that is it. If I do give, I research to make sure the charity is legit...there are a lot of scams out there.

  2. I agree with your approach. You can't support everything and anything, no one can, unless they are super rich and even then they tend to support only a few causes. Its kind of like talents. For instance, as you know, hubby plays guitar and plays it really well. He likes kids, but not enough to teach Sunday school, but he loves to play guitar at church. I love kids and can teach Sunday school. It would be unfair to expect him to share that same passion and expect him to be enthusiastic about it. So your sister should respect that you help as you can if you can and back off a bit in her approach to get you to help the cause she is passionate about.

    We are like you, we have our passions and causes that we support. Because we are on a limited budget I do choose carefully. In the olden days when money flowed a bit more, I would pretty much give to anyone that called seeking a donation (of course through a reputable organization).


  3. We share the same philosophy... we can't do everything, but we can do something.

  4. Yours totally makes sense. Resources are just too limited (time and financial) to do everything. I think you can do more good focusing on a handful and being able to commit a chunk of time or finances than being part of dozens upon dozens and just giving a tiny bit of resources to each.

  5. I think you are right when you point out that it spreads out evenly in the end. I have a cause where I have money taken out of my bank account every month. That's the main charity I give to. I give to pretty much every charity I'm asked to but I won't sign up for regular contributions because I've committed to one and it's all I can realistically afford.

  6. I completely agree with your approach and also that it all evens out. I'd actually rather have people volunteer for something that has personal meaning to them, as I think they will do a better job. Since I have a child with autism, I tend to support causes that help to improve their quality of life. If I had a child with diabetes, I'd probably be more prone to support that.


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