Tuesday, December 21, 2010

"It's in you to give"

So I failed at one of my goals over the past decade - which was to reach blood donation # 50 before I turned 30 years old. At a maximum of 6 donations (of whole blood, not platelets) per year, I should have theoretically reached 50 a couple years ago. But then I was deferred several times for having travelled to 'malaria risk' countries, and then I just plain fell off the cart a few times, and so tonight, I made my 47th donation just 10 days shy of turning 30. If I could just pause the clock for 6 months... Frack.

Anyways, that's my idea of a segway into my annual bleeding heart pinko commie post about doing your part for your fellow man. Let me start with a short story: 32 years ago, a young couple undertook a risky journey thousands of miles away from home with nothing but the shirts on their backs. They left behind their few meagre possessions, as well as their only child at the time because he was too young to make the journey safely, and sought refuge from the oppression of a long civil war that ended in mass bloodshed. Through a series of events beyond their control, they landed on the shores of Western Canada, and were shipped off to a small town where they would then toil in poverty for the next 20 odd years working labour jobs. Money was perpetually tight, and opportunities were slim. But despite all the adversity, they had a second child, sponsored their first child to rejoin them through immigration, and through the support of the community that took them in, they were able to make a life for their children that would be infinitely better than their own youth. In a nutshell, that's the coles notes version of me, my brother, and my parents who arrived as one of the many Chinese-Vietnamese refugees known as 'the boat people'.

Now, back to the present: As we hit the homestretch towards X-mas, and mostly lose our minds when it comes to throwing around insane amounts of money on frivolous gifts for our friends, family, and ourselves, let's just take a moment to remember that there are many around us who are much less fortunate, and could benefit from a bit of charity on our parts. I think it goes without saying that many of us are in positions of middle classed privilege, and sparing a few bucks here and there for society at large isn't a terrible burden to our wallets. That small donation may not seem like much to us, but could mean a world of impact on the lives who need it. The point of my story was to illustrate that people are often the victims of circumstance, and sometimes all they need is a bit of a helping hand. Had it not been for the generous spirit of the Canadian community that took my parents in, we would not be in the position of privilege that we have achieved today. So while some of you may scoff at the idea of giving your hard earned money to 'those lazy homeless folk that don't want to work,' I'd ask you to step into our shoes for a second and perhaps realize that that excuse is perpetuating a stereotype that just is NOT true.

In this mad rush holiday season, please take a moment to think beyond just yourself, and reflect on what you're doing to help others. To co-opt an old slogan from Canadian Blood Services, 'It's in you to give'.

If you made it through all that soapbox prosetylizing, thank you. Wishing you and yours a wonderful X-mas season, and a fun filled (but safe) new year!


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