I suppose this is as good a time as any to express my (hmm, what’s le mot juste? disdain feels a bit strong, but it is probably accurate) discomfort with the Susan G. Komen for the Cure organization. Every couple of months it seems, my TV is inundated with commercials for the 3-Day for the Cure. I’m obviously not a monster (OK, maybe not so obviously…) – I wholeheartedly support the goal of finding a cure for breast cancer and raising money in support of that goal.
But I’m always left uncomfortable by the apparent message of these come-ons. There seems to be an idea that the simple physical act of walking for 60 miles over three days while wearing pink hats, shirts, boas and other gewgaws is somehow, in and of itself, helping to cure cancer. The dewy-eyed testimonials from walk participants, about the life-changing nature of the event – I don’t get it. So, a bunch of people walked around for awhile – what is the big deal? I mean, I understand that the walkers raise money by getting sponsored – but what about getting sponsored to do something actually worthwhile, like volunteering at someplace like – oh, I don’t know, Planned Parenthood – to disseminate information about breast cancer screenings?
I suppose this is just an outgrowth of my both my cynicism and my view that charity is something one ought to provide without undue fanfare. Sure, I get that we all (even mean old me!) give ourselves a pat on the back for our selflessness and magnanimity when we write a check or perform volunteer work. And that’s fine! Particularly given that both of those acts actually do benefit the recipient organization. But schlepping around town wearing pink deely-boppers, novelty sunglasses and rubber bracelets? There’s something so smug about it. “Look at me! I’M CURING CANCER!” Every time I see those folks, the same mean question pops into my head: “How much money did you spend on that pink get-up you’re wearing? Wouldn’t it have made more sense to wear the clothes you already owned and donated the money you’ve spent on pink stuff to cancer research?”
And it’s quite difficult not to be cynical about an organization like Komen that partnered with KFC on “Buckets for the Cure“…
Oh, and lest you think I’m some sort of misogynist (I am not – I am a misanthrope) by singling out breast cancer fundraising, I have the same feelings about the AIDS LifeCycle, the Walk to End Alzheimer’s, the Out of the Darkness Community Walk and the scores of other such fundraisers. Their goals are all AOK with me! And if you support the goals of these organizations, then I think it’s great to give them money! Or volunteer with them! But enough with the walkathons.
Also, please donate what you can to Planned Parenthood to help make up for the funds Susan G Komen for the Cure (Unless You’re Poor, In Which Case You’re on Your Own) has yanked.