Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Do Good Unto Someone

We had a serious discussion Friday, my cube neighbor and I, about the role of major employers as organizers of charitable effort.

I'm all for it. In a religious society, the church has considerable clout in the community in that it creates awareness and can focus its members' talents and efforts towards a common cause - a very good thing, assuming that what the church believes to be good and right, actually is - certainly open for argument in many cases.

We live in a largely secular society, like it or not. I do. I'm not religious, and not being overly fond of persecution, I enjoy sleeping in on Sundays without having to worry about getting pelted with landscaping gravel by my trendy neighbors. But I do believe that one great cost of living in a society with plenty of individual freedom is the lack of organization of individual resources for common good, so I always applaud corporations and agencies for stepping in to help.

My cube neighbor disagreed with me. It happened to be International Talk Like a Pirate Day (in case anyone didn't know; but you all did observe it, right? Otherwise, I'll heave landscaping gravel at you till you walk off the end of the plank, ye limey) and he didn't want to get in an argument, so whenever I stated a position he considered completely untenable, he merely responded with "Arrrrr!"

Pirates hate confrontation.

Not that I didn't take his point. He is very active in his church. He noted that, although our employer doesn't offer any incentives for participation in a charity drive, they do track the number that participate by division. "The way they've got it set up," he pointed out, between arrrrrs, "if not enough people sign up, it kind of makes our boss look bad, and nobody wants that!"

We don't, actually, where I work now, but I had to laugh. In my old division, the annual, agency-wide charity drive was observed as well, but rather half-heartedly. Half-assedly, not to put too fine a point on it. Emails were sent out to notify everyone that the charitable drive was under way; and a form was distributed for you to fill out your name, your division, the amount you wanted withheld from each paycheck, and the unique identifying numbers for the charity or charities you wanted to support.

Only they never ever gave you the catalogue of charities with the numbers.

At my new job, they do. And speaking of charity cases, a friend of mine who still works at the old place confirmed that this information was not given out there for the third year running! But my cube neighbor still objected. "There are a lot of charities here I don't agree with," he pointed out.

"So don't donate to those," I said.

"Arrrrr!" he said.

You can't argue with pirate logic.

In the interest of goodwill we gave up on the conversation generally, and ended by scanning through the catalogue together and remarking, to great mutual satisfaction, on how many charities would make much better band names. Our favorite was not listed under any category that we could find: that great and humane supporter of once-fearsome seafarers who must live out their final years on land, supported only by such sad remnants of their ill-gotten spoils as have not been squandered on grog and wenches: the Ancient Mariners' Retirement Fund.


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