Thursday, November 22, 2007


That's how my (formerly) negative punk-rock self used to think of this holiday: "Thank you for letting us take everything and leave you with the crumbs."

Now I think of it as a way for people to thank g-d or grace or the greenback or whom/whatever it is they believe in for their relatively easy life.

It's more effective if it's backed up with something concrete; letting someone cut in in traffic, feeding the birds, making a puja, giving an energy bar (or pint!) to the homeless vet holding the cardboard sign, calling or visiting someone who may be lonely, making a donation to some worthy cause, not calling your cat an a--hole when it attacks and draws blood, etc.

As for the donation part.... I've been thinking quite a bit about Darfur (thanks, Frontline) and two "natural" disasters - the floods-we-never-hear-about in Tabasco, Mexico and the cyclone in Bangladesh - both of which are not unrelated to oil drilling, deforestation, global warming, etc. And there are also, of course, the unnatural disasters our tax dollars have caused in Afghanistan, Iraq and other parts of the world.

In other words, our easy life has a price.

One way the average person can help alleviate suffering caused by the latter three is to donate to the Red Crescent, the Islamic equivalent of the Red Cross. You can do it without leaving your easy chair by clicking here. They'll even let you choose where you want the money to go. Just be aware that you may wind up on some FBI list.

There's also Oxfam, which is one of the groups that goes on the scene as soon as something bad happens in the world. They also let you choose your favorite disaster. Click here for more.

But wait -- there's more!

If you're poor, and/or you despise the commerical nature of Christmas (where much of what you purchase will end up in a landfill anyway), there's Buy Nothing Day. It takes place this Friday, Nov. 23 - on the biggest shopping day of the year.

All you have to do is refrain from spending money. Period.

Click here to find out how it's celebrated around the world.

And do at least one thing to show your gratitude....

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