On the door to my mother’s room, a decal dove signals death is close. But she will not die peacefully. Heart disease, long undiagnosed, suddenly took her physical health. When she realised it would never be regained, it took her mental health too.
My giving tends towards social justice. I’m increasingly drawn to the arts. Beyond street appeals and peer-to-peer asks, I’ve never given to a health or medical research charity. Now I have a significant indicator of propensity to give. A connection to a cause.
But then I’ve had connections to other causes. I watched my father lose his memories, his cognition, his sense of humour and ultimately his life to the inexorable march of Alzheimer’s. I’ve seen people I love survive cancer. I’ve seen them die. Breast cancer, stomach cancer, bladder cancer, prostate cancer, melanoma. Too many cancers. I’ve witnessed the keening of parents who have lost a child. I’ve been to the ultrasound that every pregnant woman fears. I’ve made desperate calls to an addict, not realising he was already dead.
Reading Mark Phillips’ article Why do people stop giving? prompted another question. Why do people never start giving? Why don’t I give to causes that have brushed so closely to my life? Why do I favour causes to which I have an ethical connection but no lived experience?
If I apply logic to the question, it’s probably due to feelings (isn’t it ironic?). I’d rather be mad than sad. The memory of driving to school, bus stop after bus stop defaced with racist comments, still galvanises me. But those other memories… I prefer not to feel their ragged breath.
Mark says, “With a tiny number of exceptions, all of us want to be a valued member of a valued group. We want to help solve the problems that concern us. We want to tackle feelings of helplessness generated by the injustice, poverty or the multitude of problems that the media delivers to our screens daily.”
Am I one of the tiny exceptions? This is something for me to reflect and perhaps act on. I hope the commentary, stories and case studies in this issue have a similar impact.
CLARE JOYCE, Content Director