My parents and I recently discussed our Christmas wish lists. It was a short discussion, because all of us said that we have enough stuff already, and we didn't really need or want anything else. Actually, I'm going to ask my mom to mend a few loose buttons on my jacket. It would take me ages, but she's an ace with a needle and thread. That aside, I'll be happy to enjoy a week with my family.
I'll be honest, Santa, my cup of Christmas cheer has seemed half empty lately. With news stories about acid being thrown on schoolgirls in Afghanistan and terrorist attacks in Mumbai, it's easy to get discouraged about the state of the world. Of course, the one in six people living on less than a dollar a day don't even make the headlines. That's not “news” - it's “still happenings”. The Walmart worker getting trampled to death by a consumerism-crazed mob*, now that's news!
(*mob: noun, some regular folks whose enthusiasm for low prices cannot be contained by silly little things like electromagnetically locked doors)
So this year, Santa, I was thinking that it'd be great to leave the sweaters and toy dump trucks in the workshop and focus on some things that will put a smile on people's faces and leave their cup of cheer overflowing! It doesn't take any money to make a positive difference: Bake cookies for a neighbour; Study a world map with a child; Write a handwritten letter; ask someone to teach you a skill they have; Look a homeless person in the eyes as you pass. It doesn't even need to take a lot of time!
Still feel like you should spend some money on someone anyway? Try making a charitable donation in someone's honour - a phenomenal gift! There are so many organizations doing such great work! Choose your cause: Racism, Sexism, Homophobia, Heath, Environment, Poverty... the list is huge!
In fact, Santa, I've made an online wishlist and set an ambitious goal of raising $1000 from 50 donors to support my three wishes:
1.Canadian youth become engaged global citizens, committed to fighting poverty.
2.Canada's government becomes a global leader in the fight against poverty (instead of riding out a reputation of past good deeds).
3.Fair Trade products become a common consumer option for all Canadians, allowing people to support farmers from the developing world with their daily actions.
Obama's inspiring democratization of fundraising made it obvious that every donation counts. Whether it's $1, $10, $20, $100 or more, I'm asking YOU to be one of the 50 people who give the gift of opportunity. I'm kicking off the effort by donating $100 myself. Any gift of $20 or more is tax deductible.
Visit www.giftofopportunity.ca/joel for more info on how you can help make my wishes come true, and please, pass this letter on to your friends, family and coleagues. There's simply no better gift!
Thanks Santa, and have a safe and happy holiday!
Photo: AP - Atifa Bibi, age
14, with acid burns on her face, having been attacked on November 12,
2008, by people who believe that women should not go to school. The
attackers were hitmen, paid $2000 by other goons. The acid attacks, of
which an estimated 80% are against women, and nearly 40% are against
children under 18 years old, are rare in Afghanistan, but unfortunately
more common in Bangladesh, Cambodia, India and Pakistan.
We must not turn our backs on the realities of the world!
Canada can lead the charge in reducing poverty,
securing basic human rights
(like gender equality and access to education),
and raising a generation of engaged global citizens.
“The Santa myth is one of the most effective means ever devised for intimidating children, eroding their self- esteem, twisting their behavior, warping their values, and slowing their development of critical thinking skills.”
- Tom Flynn, Author:
"The Trouble With Christmas"
Joel Hilchey speaks and facilitates workshops across North America, empowering students, educators & business leaders who want to build stronger, more positive teams and communities. Contact him by phone at 1-877-487-5635 or check him out online at www.joelhilchey.com!
RIDDLE: Two skis on my feet, and a big flat bench seat, I'll be here soon enough to deliver your stuff. What am I?