Thursday, December 15, 2005

This Won't Make Things Better

I have tried to email Barbara to explain that I was not attacking her personally. The only reason her name ended up in the blog at all was that she rightly pointed out that I was being unnecessarily pedantic when it came to Zohrah's English. Zohrah seems to have taken it all with good humor, pointing out her knowledge of languages, so I hope Barbara will accept that I was not being pointed in any way. As Diane commented, more than a few of my readers are into it. I wasn't commenting on any one particular person's undertakings.

The Dude reminded me, yet again, that not everyone has had that special experience of excessive graduate school in cultural studies which leads one to be able to disassociate from any given topic, allowing one to discuss personal issues "theoretically." Unless they can't... disassociate, that is. Then they end up teaching high school. (That's a joke, people.)

The reason I didn't like the question was that our responses had to begin from the position that all charity is good, and therefore, we should all participate in it. Many people will say this assumption, that all charity is equally good, is one that they can live with. (Some will say that this assumption was not made, but I will discuss that below.) But I spent so much time thinking in grad school because I believe all assumptions must be challenged. We know that there was an underlying assumption that we should all participate because of the apologetic answers that people who don't participate in charity stitching gave. "No, but I really should." Well, why should you, really? If you feed people at the soup kitchen, or collect warm clothes for women in halfway houses, or bring toys to the marines every year, is that enough? Do you have to give your hobby over too? Couldn't your hobby be a way to refresh yourself so that you have more energy to give to volunteering at the old folks home?

I will continue to say nothing about what I do or do not do for charity. So many people have assumed that I don't do charitable work. This is another reason we know people subscribe to the false assumption that charity is always good. (Just ask the East Timorese about the Thigh Masters that took up room on the boats bringing charitable aid what they think of that assumption.) Good works=good people. Bad people don't do good works. (The mind boggles.) If you question good works, you can't be a good person. That is a logical fallacy.

Criticism doesn't equal rejection. If I raise questions about something that I do, does that make me better or worse than someone who does things unthinkingly? than someone who doesn't do them at all? than someone who feels guilty because she isn't doing charity? If I make other people think about why they are doing something, why is that so bad?

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