Yesterday, while surfing through unread Facebook entries, I came across an interesting post. My birthday is coming up later in the month, and apparently, I have the option of asking my Facebook followers to donate to a worthy non-profit in lieu of sending me gifts.
Now, mind you, I don’t think I normally receive birthday presents from 99.9% of the folks following me on FB. But, still, it seemed like a nifty idea, right? Get the folks who follow me on Facebook plugged into the cause that matters the most to me.
Just about then, a problem occurred to me: I didn’t know which cause mattered the most to me.
Which Fire Burns Brightest
Seems like it should be simple enough, right? Just identify which of the causes that I support and advocate for has had the most impact on me. But, how do I quantify the negative effect of the things I care about?
Epilepsy changed my life forever and placed me in the position of no longer being able to hold down a “real” job.
Chronic obesity crippled me to the point that I had to have 75% of a major organ removed to deal with it.
Depression is waging a war against my ability to actually accomplish much of anything in my day-to-day life. Many days, depression is winning that war.
So – which one has impacted me the most, exactly?
Or, put another way, if I had the ability to make only one of these issues vanish off the face of the planet, which one would I pick?
Suddenly, any answer seems fraught with peril.
Weighed In The Balance (And Found Wanting)
Epilepsy affects roughly one in every hundred of us. It takes us out of the driver’s seat of our own brain and turns the controls over to an internal electrical storm. In many cases (like mine) it requires a constant babysitter – tying up two lives instead of just one. It shortens our lives, kills us in our sleep, and ruins our quality of life. So, of course, I should focus on epilepsy, right? Seems like a no-brainer. (Hah!)
Except that obesity is killing us nationally. Over 35% of Americans are obese. Some estimates suggest that, as a nation, we are spending upwards of 190 BILLION dollars on the societal costs of obesity annually. Do the math, folks: 325 Million people are spending 190 Billion dollars on obesity… That’s $584 per person, every year. Can you imagine what that money could do if it wasn’t being used on the societal costs of weight?
The U.S. trade deficit is 560 Billion, people. Just sayin’.
It is killing us, slowly and silently. Around 7% of us are suffering from depression. Depression crushes our productivity and removes our enjoyment from life. And, in many cases, it takes our best and brightest from us too soon. It is stigmatized and misunderstood, And, yet, it is frequently successfully treatable. Getting us to sign up for the treatment in the first place is apparently the major hurdle. (I, for instance, have yet to make my initial appointment to see a counselor. Because reasons.)
So, yeah. Pick one. Go ahead.
The problem is that the problems all look SO large, that it seems impossible to choose just one. And, in many cases, that means that we don’t pick one at all.
We go through life ignoring ALL of them, instead of taking a breath and getting to work on at least one of them. The paralysis of indecision keeps so many of us from doing anything about anything.
It is very easy to forget that we can’t solve all of these issues by ourselves. It takes collective action to tackle world-shattering problems. And if small groups of us can get motivated to each work on the issues that speak to us the most strongly, progress gets made on all of them.
The idea isn’t to fix the whole world. It is for each of us to leave the place a little better than the way we found it.
In that spirit, I am going to go ahead and select one. It may not have the highest societal cost, and it may not be the one with the clearest solution, but it is the one I’ve been dealing with for a decade and a half now: Epilepsy.
If you agree with me, awesome. Toss a buck or two in the plate for the folks at the Epilepsy Foundation. They remain one of the major distributors of funds to community groups, education, and epilepsy research.
If not, no hard feelings. But pick something, for goodness sake. The world needs your active involvement in tackling the problems facing it. This is no time to sit on the sidelines and just sort of hope that things will get better on their own. Because we all know how well THAT works in the long run.
Trying To Leave The World Better Than The Way I Found It,