Where to begin? Probably at the beginning. Okay. Here goes.
I recently decided to give away money.
I know. I’m a moron. Or drunk again. Whatever. Don’t be a hater.
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What I’ve started doing, besides donating to the local no-kill animal shelter here in Mexico, is donating via the web to try to help save animals that are on death row. They’re on the TBK lists – To Be Killed, at shelters across America, due to overcrowding in the facilities. The only way to make more space is to get rid of the current crop. The stories are always heartbreaking and usually involve mistreatment by humans. Callous owners that leave the animals behind when they move. That abuse them. That raise them to torture them. Or that discard the poor things because owning a pet seemed like a fun idea, and then life got in the way and it was inconvenient. These animals haven’t done anything wrong. They’re victims of circumstance.
And they deserve better than that. We as a species should treat them better. We too often fail them, for which there’s no excuse.
As humans, our greatness isn’t measured by our achievements. It’s measured by our compassion. In that regard, we’re lacking. Our world has virtually unimaginable riches at every turn, and yet for want of a few bucks, every day, innocent animals are killed because there’s not enough cash to support them for a while longer, or not enough spaces free to keep them alive.
I decided that since I’ve been extremely fortunate with my book business, I want to allocate some cash where it will do some good. I’m not doing some gimmick like pledging some of the income from my dog book to charity. I already do that, and when it doesn’t sell much, I reach into my pocket and make up the difference. No, I’m committing to giving away thousands of dollars every year, which is a drop in the bucket in terms of what’s necessary, but which, if I can serve as inspiration to anyone, can serve as a model.
I live in Mexico. A country with hardship. Many of the people here live brutal lives in abject poverty, working 12 hour days to barely survive. You can imagine what the animals go through.
Don’t get me wrong. I also donate to human charities. But it’s the animals I feel sorriest for.
I keep encountering this apathy among my expat friends here that annoys the hell out of me: that it’s too big a problem for one person to make a difference. That’s bullshit. One person can always make a difference. It depends on how committed they are. I’ve rescued 15 animals since living here. I made a difference to those 15 lives.
That apathy is a function of wanting to appear to care, but not actually exert the effort to do anything. As is the whole, “I’ll pray for them” bit. Great. You pray for them. How about skipping your $5 frappucino today and pledging to keep an animal from being murdered? Knock off the pretending-to-care BS where you act like offering your positive thinking is doing something. It isn’t. It’s a cop out. It’s what people who don’t actually want to act do so they can pretend that they’re doing something, while actually doing squat.
Act. Don’t ruminate or call upon a higher power. Adopt an animal. If you can’t, peel off a few dollars from your wad and do the right thing: sponsor an animal on the TBK list. That $5 or $10 isn’t going to kill you, but it could stop a tragedy from happening – a tragedy that takes place countless times every day, because it’s a crime to murder a two year old, but an animal with the awareness of a two year old’s fair game.
We should be ashamed that’s the best we can do. I find it ironic that I’m sending money from Mexico to the U.S. to save dogs and cats there. But I am. As well as supporting the shelters here. It’s a global problem that we need to address locally – one animal at a time. You can’t save them all, but if you commit to saving one, your chances of success skyrocket.
I know it’s hard out there. Everyone’s struggling. Everyone’s got their reason they can’t do anything right now. All I ask is that you make a decision to be part of the solution, dig deep, and do something besides project your empathy via the astral plane.
I recently joined a Facebook group I’d like you to look at, and if possible, join and share – the sharing costs nothing, but it can highlight an animal’s tragic plight and possibly find others who are willing to do something. It’s worth spending some time at, if only to raise awareness of the countless spirits being extinguished daily by a system that can’t or won’t do better.
For once I’m not going to ask you to buy my books. Here’s my proposal: instead of buying one, go pledge that $5 to subsidizing one of the suffering, scared animals on that list. I’ll get over it. Hell, if it’s that big a deal, make the pledge, send me an email with PLEDGE in the subject line at Books@RussellBlake.com and evidence that you made a donation, and I’ll send you a coupon for a free book of your choice. Because the animals need the money more than I do, and it’s for a good cause. I’ll keep doing this as long as you keep pledging. I’m completely serious. I’d rather see my sales decline by 50% and know that money went to helping animals with no voice than pocket the cash myself and squander it on tequila or food or whatnot. So step up. There’s really no excuse not to.
Bless you if you do. Trust me, you’ll be glad you did – there’s no better feeling than making a difference. And if God’s a dog or cat, you’re into heaven like a Kardashian at an after-hours club. If for whatever reason you don’t, consider that when you’re on your death bed, praying for salvation or pity or a little bit of forgiveness, that you had the chance to do something, to save a creature yourself, and you chose not to. Let’s see how that plays. Between you and me, I don’t like your odds.