I'm working writing more, quicker, and not directly for an EA Forum audience. This is a post copied over from my blog.
I wonder what they’re doing today, the kid whose life I saved. Maybe playing with their friends in the schoolyard, maybe spending time with their grandma, or maybe just kicking a football, alone.
Whatever they’re doing today, some day they’ll grow up, and they’ll live. They’ll have a first kiss, a favorite dance, a hobby that makes them feel free, a role model they look up to, a best friend… all of it. They’ll live. And I think it will be because of what I did today.
. . .
It isn’t thrilling or adventurous, saving a life in the 21st century. I opened my laptop, clicked my way to a bookmarked website, and donated to a standout charity. Someone watching me couldn’t be blamed for assuming I’m doing nothing of much importance, maybe answering some text messages about plans tonight. The whole thing (the donation part after you check in with what you really care about) probably took less than 5-minutes.
What did I do to wield this power? Nothing. In an important sense, I think I did nothing to be able to save a life without getting up from my couch. (I certainly did nothing to ‘deserve’ this power). I just won the birth lottery. I was born in an upper-middle class family, born on track to get a good education, and –just like that – born to become one of the richest people in the world.
I didn’t do anything crazy to make slightly more than the median US income, yet here I am making decisions about whether someone lives or dies.
I just wish it wasn’t so easy. The five-thousand dollars I donated today isn’t a trivial amount, but it’s much more trivial than a human life. Modern economies of abundance should have ensured that it costs me more than a new car I don’t need to make the difference between a kid dying before their fifth birthday and that kid meeting their grandkids. Yet here I am, sitting on my couch, holding a life I cannot see – but that exists as so much more than an abstraction – in my hands.
Please, I think, as I walk by people with expensive cars and watches, and picture a little girl celebrating her birthday, please don’t tell yourself you deserve it.
. . .
Oh, and about that taboo of not talking about donations: fuck that. Imagine if sharing how I feel about donating could inspire at least one other person to join the project of giving what we can, but I stayed quiet because of worries that I would come across as self-righteous or self-centered. I worry much more about the self-centeredness I would be expressing in that silence.
I’m not that different from the people who I expect to read this post. See how you compare to the rest of the world here.
Does $5,000 seem like a lot? Find out why the instagram ads telling you you can save a life for less aren’t telling the whole truth.
If someone ever saves my life, the first thing I’ll ask is whether they “did it for the right reasons.”