By Cheryl Mahoney
I want to talk about American Idol today. Not about singing or about snarky judges, and I freely confess that I have never watched a single episode of the popular show. But I stumbled across a news item recently about “Idol Gives Back,” an annual American Idol event designed to raise money for charity. Apparently it’s been canceled for 2009. One article says that they’re making the event biannual, to help them focus on keeping up the quality of the show. More sources cite the floundering economy as the reason, and I even read an article which cited Simon Cowell as saying it was an “inappropriate” time to ask people to donate to charity (second paragraph from the bottom).
I believe that if there was ever a time when we ought to give to charity, this is it.
As the song says, “Christmas is coming, the goose is getting fat, time to put a penny in the old man’s hat; if you haven’t got a penny, a ha’penny will do; if you haven’t got a ha’penny, then God bless you.” We whiz through that song because it’s old and familiar, but I think there’s something profound there if we slow down and look for it. Christmas is coming–a good time to embrace the heartwarming value of charitable giving, and it even comes during a season when it’s cold and dark and people may be a little more in need than they are in August. For the people who have been hit so badly by the economic downturn that they haven’t got a ha’penny to their name, of course they shouldn’t be worrying about donating money to charity (though perhaps they have something non-monetary to share). If, however, we have a few pennies we can spare without taking food off the table, now more than ever is the time to give, to help those who don’t have anything to put in the old man’s hat. Maybe we can’t all afford to give as much as we used to, but we can still give something.
In a large-scale economic crisis like this, I believe we have two choices: we can close our checkbooks, hoard what we have, keep what’s mine MINE so that I’LL be all right. Or we can open our hearts and share what we have, and believe that we are all the better for it when we come together to help one another.
I guess we know what American Idol expects us to do. I’ve never seen the show, but I hear they were raising money for Save the Children, UNICEF and The Global Fund–all of whom, I am sure, would still be thrilled by a donation if you choose to make one.