How Not Buying Shoes Could Save Humanity — The Crisis in Syria

I was about to buy a pair of shoes.  They were blue. Cute. Vintage-styled. $130 shoes on sale for $65 plus shipping. A steal.

But I didn’t buy them.

For one thing, yesterday I just paid off my credit card.  I promised myself that if I paid it off, I wouldn’t use it unless it was an emergency.  Shoes… I own like 30 pairs.  I used to own way more, but I’ve been trying to only keep things in my life (and my closet) that I love. That bring me absolute joy.

But I also couldn’t buy them with a good conscience.  Not when I’d just posted on my personal FB account about the children who died in the capsized boat two days ago. A two-year-old and a four-year-old. It struck home like many of these stories have for me in the past four years since becoming a mother.  I was never this emotional before, but I supposed that there’s this universal motherhood where we all feel it when the world loses a child.  I can’t say if it affects fathers too — but I think it must.

So how could I ask others to care about this, to take action and then buy a pair of shoes without doing anything?  If I could buy a $65 pr of shoes that would be worn maybe a dozen times over the following months, then I could easily donate that money to a charity instead. According to UNICEF, there are more than 2 million children refugees who have fled Syria. Hmm.  For a non-math major (English Lit.) that’s a lot of numbers to consider.

A while back Neil Gaiman did a piece for the Guardian where he visited refugees in camps.  He worked with UNHCR.  You can read all about it on his blog. There’s a lot of organizations that are claiming to support this cause and if you are like me, you will do your research and decide where your money should go and where it will be most effective.  UNICEF has a specific fund for child refugees from Syria. This is where my shoe money is headed.

I’ve been dwelling on a lot of bad stuff in the world these past few days and weeks. Children dying all over the news.  Police getting shot simply for wearing a uniform. Crazy people with guns shooting people in churches. When my friend (and fellow blogger) Colleen, added the news photo to her FB page, I’d already seen it all over the internet and couldn’t wrap my head around the awfulness of humanity sometimes and I posted that in a comment. She was quick to send me a link about how the citizens of Iceland were petitioning their government to open their borders.  Eleven.Thousand. Citizens. (Holy shit. More big numbers — this time the good kind). Many are offering to take theses strangers into their homes and feed and protect them. A single mom offered to take in child who she would raise along side her own son – teach him the language – give him toys and an education — oh yeah — and  a childhood.  I just read that Germany is allegedly willing to take in 800,000 refugees.

My faith is healing.

Most people don’t have money to donate — but then again sometimes we convince ourselves of that.  I don’t think we can drink a $5 Starbuck’s macchiato and be too convincing when we say we’d love to help, to do something, but we just don’t have the money right now.  I know how easy it is to win that argument, but I also know that if I want my son to be an active member of Society (a world society) and to be a contribution to humanity, then I need to lead by example.

If this isn’t your charity — that’s cool.  We all need to find something that resonates with us when we are handing over our money. But I ask you to consider whether you have an extra $5 or maybe could skip that coffee or pair of shoes and give money to a charity this month? This week? Today?

Update:  THANK YOU to the many readers and friends who contacted me to say that this little post inspired you to donate.  It means a lot that you read this and even more that this “thinking out loud moment” brought a bit of good in this world.  Well done!

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