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Saturday, January 16, 2010

Feeling Generous?

You'd have to be made of a pillar of salt or some sort of titanium compound to not be extremely moved by the pictures and film that are coming out of Haiti right now.

And you're very nice, sensitive people, so I think we can all take that you are extremely moved as writ.

It would be very easy for me to write some desperate-sounding, hyperbole-laden plea begging you to send money to aid the thousands and thousands of people who are without food, water, shelter, proper medical assistance or hope. Blogger makes it pretty easy for even technological blunderboobs like me to plop "Donate Now" buttons all over this site and hyperlinks directing you to the American Red Cross and other various relief agencies whose sole mission in life is do-goodery and beg you to send anything, whatever you can afford to the people of Haiti.

But, and it sounds terrible to say this, that's just not me.

Now, before you bitch me out in the comment section of this blog and write angry letters to Lord Jewdemort demanding that I be excommunicated from Heaven and my own home, I ask you to just please hear me out.

Large-scale tragedies are too big for me. At forty pounds underweight for my height, I'm a real small fry. I can't comprehend the big numbers-- maybe this has something to do with my deficiency in mathematics, but I find it almost a total impossibility to comprehend and wrap my skinny, boney little head around a calamity like this.

I can't do it. And maybe that makes me an insufferable asslick, and, if that's the case, go ahead and call me that. You wouldn't be the first-- not even this week.

I can remember going to college with crunchy people who would have jumped right on this earthquake, in fact, many of them are doing so now, even though they're a little more crinkly around the eyes and wizened than they used to be, back when they wore baggy corduroys, dreds, and carried around filthy Nalgene bottles festooned with Amnesty International stickers. They're on Facebook now (I have 267 Facebook friends, you know, and I regularly communicate with approximately four people-- one of them being my wife) donating their statuses to the Haiti earthquake, putting up desperate appeals for funding through your cell phone company or through UPS, even though most people write comments under these statuses claiming that these are nothing but frauds and schemes designed to take advantage of people with filthy Nalgene bottles.

Which I find sad and a little bit pointless.

When I worked on the streets as an EMT, Katrina beat the everloving shit out of New Orleans. My ambulance company got organized and sent dozens of ambulances down South, manned by many of my coworkers and friends. If I weren't affianced at the time, I said to my supervisor, I'd go. Of course, when my friends and coworkers returned, they told stories that made me glad I hadn't. Their radios didn't work with New Orleans emergency dispatch frequencies. They didn't have GPS and routinely got totally lost looking for unfamiliar addresses in a foreign environment. Some EMTs and paramedics resorted to sleeping in their trucks because their motel rooms were virtually uninhabitable. They ran out of supplies, got into fights with New Orleans EMS crews, and with each other, and the relief effort mounted by my former ambulance company was generally regarded in the end as uncoordinated and bungled.

When I looked at pictures of the cortege of ambulances headed down I-95 emblazoned with our company's logo, I snarkily snarffed, "It looks like charity, but it smells like a publicity stunt."

Geez, what an asslick.

I'm disenfranchised, too, I think, with all the media coverage that is being filtered, sifted, sorted, and exploited by the American media. Tallies of how many Americans have been injured or killed, profiles of Americans who have lost legs or have no contact with their adopted Haitian children. Americans who are missing. It's a little much and, while I realize that we are in America and that these are American media sources, I think it's presumptuous to assume that the only thing Americans care about are whether or not there are Americans affected by a tragedy. Why are we not able to feel for and empathize with people of different nationalities, and worry about them and their welfare?

That said, I'm not going to be sending any of my fungible funds that are earmarked for charitable endeavors to Haiti.

Why? Like I said-- it's just not my thing.

Many of you know what my cause-de-plume and charity-of-choice is: fallen police officers. My wife calls it my "fetish." Well, if it is, it's my number one. And I have a number two, too: wounded police officers.

On Saturday, January 9th at around 2am, Anchorage Police Officer Jason Allen was sitting in his marked patrol car finishing up some paperwork on a domestic assault call. A dark colored sedan pulled up next to his cruiser and someone opened fire on the officer, striking him five times. Officer Allen had absolutely no inkling of what was happening to him, he never had a chance to draw his weapon or take any action to defend himself-- he was taken completely by surprise in a totally unprovoked act of violence, hatred, and cowardice.

The occupants in the dark sedan got away, speeding off into the frigid Alaska night.

The bastards who shot Officer Allen are still on the loose, and Officer Allen is still in the hospital, only moved out of ICU a day or so ago. I know it's difficult for lots of 20somethings to muster up the gumption to give a rat's ass about anyone who dons a blue uniform and pins on a badge every morning, but if ever there was a time to stand up, it's now.

There's two funds to which you can make a contribution in support of Officer Allen, the victim of a senseless and rage-filled act of brutality. If you want your efforts to go towards finding the shitheads who opened fire on him, there's the Jason Allen Reward Fund. If helping to assist with his gigantic medical bills, and unmet costs for his family, there's the Jason Allen Family Support Fund. There's only one way to support either, or both, and that's by dusting off the old checkbook and writing a check to:

Key Bank, Anchorage
601 W. 5th Avenue
Suite 100
Anchorage, Alaska 99501

In the memo section of your check, write either "Jason Allen Reward Fund" (if you like catchin' bad guys) or "Jason Allen Family Support Fund" (if you like, um, supportin' families).

I don't know if anybody writes checks anymore. You might feel kind of old-fashioned doing it, but I hope you don't think I'm presumptuous in saying that you'll also feel good, too. I'm hopeful for Jason Allen's recovery. I'm hopeful that they catch the shooter(s), too.

And, even though I'm all curmudgeonly about it: I'm hopeful for Haiti, too.


  1. I missed that piece of news about the officer in Alaska. I recently watched a show on NatGeo about how few officers that they have up there in some of the villages, etc. And the serious problems they face.

    Now I see why they broadcast that.

    I just might pull out and dust off my checkbook for that cause. I'm not hitting any donate now buttons for Haiti either. I'm still wondering where the billions funneled down there over the last decade have gone...

  2. I think it's only human to feel overwhelmed by the tragedy in Haiti- particularly when you look at the grand scheme of things. I especially feel that way having spent time there in the past. I can't imagine anything else being stripped away from a country with nothing but the air they breath.

  3. Well said.

    I'm completely overwhelmed by the Haiti situation as well, which I agree is totally normal. I care and want to donate funds--not because I care about the Americans who are missing or affected by it--but because I want to help and there's really not anything else I can do. I'm too little. I'm not going to not help because I dislike the way the American media handles it. I think it's too cynical to assume that all the help is a publicity stunt--even though a lot of it is. I want to be able to ignore it. But that being said, I haven't clicked a donate button and dished over the bucks yet either.

    I'm disgusted by the headlines that focus on how many Americans are missing. I'm especially disgusted by the headline I saw right after it happened:

    "Heroes" actor unable to contact parents in Haiti

    and then a few days later:

    "Heroes" actor reaches parents in Haiti

    How does this even compare to the total devastation? Why is the story of this actor headline worthy when there are so many others in the same situation--or worse situations?

    Anyway, my sloppily formed thoughts on that are done.

    Thanks for passing on the information about the officer. There have been several officer deaths in the Seattle area in the last year, and I feel like, in our 20 something community, we don't hear much about sending funds their way.

  4. In other news, a plane crashed in New Zealand. No surviviors expected. 263 on board, 2 Americans.

  5. There are so many causes to give your money to in this world that it's impossible and totally overwhelming to think about more than one or two. Congratulations for choosing yours and being passionate about them-it's more than the people who just click a button to send some money over to Haiti have done.


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