Gifting in the Time of Trump

Like everything else since Donald Trump was elected president, Giving Tuesday has taken on far more serious ramifications than ever before.

Deciding where to spend our charitable dollars, or how many causes to embrace, has never been easy, especially in the Internet age. Every day my inbox fills up with pleas to save this, that or another thing, and since technology enables these pleas to match my profile (I never hear from the NRA), it’s very hard to refuse. But this year, each missive carries a new urgency.

What, save billionaires and big business, doesn’t feel under threat? Civil rights, human rights and planetary rights can never be taken for granted, but at least for the past eight years we’ve had a dependable ally in the White House. Now it’s really all up to us, both to open our pocketbooks and put boots on common ground. So, it’s time to get started.

Do I give and/or volunteer to help save our wilderness, preserve press freedom and civic literacy, give sanctuary to immigrants fleeing oppression, protect immigrants already here, strengthen voting rights, fight global warming, keep Planned Parenthood’s doors open, stand with Native Americans, fight discrimination against Muslims – or all of the above?

Do I take a bus to Washington, D.C. for the National Action Network march at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial on Jan. 14, or wait for the grander Million Women’s March on Jan. 21, the day after Trump’s inauguration?

It’s always a dilemma whether to give a little time and money to each cause you hold dear, or give a lot to one. But with so many potential crises looming, my head is spinning. It can get exhausting just contemplating all the vigilance and work that will be required during the Trump years.

But, as my mother would say, “Buck up.” She lived through World War II, and “we didn’t always know we would win,” she reminds me. All my side has lost, so far, is a presidential election. And there are plenty of signs that the American people are stepping up the fight against ignorance and bigotry.

Contributions to progressive causes are reportedly on the upswing, and so apparently are subscriptions to publications, print or digital, that practice actual journalism. Any news organization, whether progressive or conservative, that respects facts and rejects hyperbole deserves our support, because the greatest casualty of this election was the truth.

I applaud John Oliver, as he ended his 2016 HBO season, for urging us to buy newspaper and magazine subscriptions (Commonweal, naturally, would be a fine choice). Traditionally, Giving Tuesday hasn’t encompassed giving to news publications, but then there’s nothing traditional about this post-election season.

As I sift through appeals from Southern Poverty Law Center, Sierra Club, Audubon Society, NPR, Doctors Without Borders, Jewish Voice for Peace, and Committee to Protect Journalists, et al, I’m also reviewing entreaties from news organizations the Internet intuits would elicit my empathy.

“Give the Gift of Insight,” Foreign Affairs implores me, while the New York Times (I already subscribe) urges “Give Opinions” (frankly, we’ve got too many of those) and “Give the World” (better).  The Guardian thinks that since I visit its website regularly, it’s high time to consider a donation.

But I’ll try not to complain. As demanding as all this sifting and choosing can be, the work being done on my behalf takes a lot more energy.

 

Bethe Dufresne, a frequent contributor, is a freelance writer living in Old Mystic, Connecticut.

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