For some reason, it's when I really think about "stuff" - Christmas and what it means to me personally, how lucky I am to have a warm, dry place where I can think about putting up decorations (even if it is pretty darn cold right now), and about the amazing people I know, both in real life and online. Generally, I come out of it feeling pretty good about my life, which helps in dealing with the "hibernating hermit" feeling I get every year by this point.
Today is also when I make my annual donation to Doctors Without Borders, because it feels right to make that a part of the above thought process (and because the Yarn Harlot reminded me of it so well a few years ago). Funny coincidence - today is the anniversary of MSF's founding (and this year is the organization's 40th birthday). Seems appropriate somehow.
I like MSF for a number of reasons: an equal access policy, complete lack of religious credo, independence from large drug companies. Because some of the founders were journalists, a part of MSF's mission is "temoignage," which is French for, I believe, "testimony," but basically means that in addition to medical and relief work, MSF has a responsibility to actively speak out about human rights violations and raise public awareness about issues like access to affordable medications for diseases such as AIDS and malaria. To me, that part is just as important as the actual medical care, because how can we improve things if we don't know they need to be improved?.
Would I love for you all to make a small donation to MSF as well? Sure would - US people here, Canada people here, others can find their country's donation page here. But really, the thought here is bigger than just giving some money to these particular good guys. If you can, give some money to your favorite good guys. If you can't, can you volunteer some time? Knit for charity? Read to underprivileged kids?
We've all said it: "I wish the world was a nicer place." Yup, I do too. And I think we all want to do something about it, but the problem just seems SO FREAKING HUGE that the initial motivation fizzles and dies after a really short time. And no, we can't all save the world. But we can make our little part of it a little bit better this year. And then do the same thing again next year. If everyone just picks one thing - one little thing that's not going to cost a lot of money or time - I don't see how that can not make a difference, somewhere, somehow.
Happy Solstice. Happy Return of the Light.