This is a post in which I ask you for money, if you have it, and hope, whether you think you have it or not.
Reader Mary Maxfield Brave asked me if I would “lend the power of the hambeast” to the cause of getting Sophia sufficient funds for her eating disorder treatment. And it was this paragraph from her post that got me to agree:
The Big Picture — with all its beauty and contrast and confusion — is a mosaic of tiny, smaller pictures. And the value system at the core of my activism is the notion that each of those tiny specks also matters — that, while I tend to think in generations and movements, in long-term change worth personal sacrifice – my desire for those changes and my belief in them depends upon my attachment to specific, individual folks. When I cut to the core of things, I still must admit: the one, specific friend I lost to suicide causes me more pain than the fact that another life is lost (to suicide, in the US alone) every 17 minutes. The personal matters.
And here is Sophia:
My name is Sofia Benbahmed and I am trying to do everything in my power to get the help I need – if you read the description on my page, all of the details are there in an email that I am sending out to friends and family. I am currently trying to raise money to get the treatment recommended for me for a disease I have had for 12 years – an eating disorder. I have had issues with my insurance company and am trying to get the help I need and finally get better!
For all that I initially — and readily — agreed to take part in the blogging carnival for Sophia (because I am fundamentally a softy with a tendency to swoon when people ask me for help as though I were not an especially tiny krill in the online ocean), I realized I had a lot of resistance to the idea.
What do I know about her, really?
Might it be a scam?
Why her, and not someone else?
Why one person with an eating disorder, when that much money could help so many others with different illnesses?
And even — and I hate myself for thinking this — what if she doesn’t make it? What if she doesn’t get better?
And y’know, in examining these resistances, they each came down to… cynicism. And I don’t particularly like the thought of myself as quite that cynical. (“contemptuously distrustful of human nature and motives” — “based on or reflecting a belief that human conduct is motivated primarily by self-interest”)
Cynicism has its place, perhaps. But cynicism is the antithesis of hope. Cynicism is immobilizing. Cynicism is douche in the back of the class scoffing that it will never work whilst the people in the front do what they can to make it happen. And after high school (and, um, in high school), that really stopped being amusing. So forget cynicism. Forget the voice in my head saying but she has so much, others have so much less. Forget the urge to pile up her privileges and deem her “not oppressed enough”; that was me when the Boychick was born, having too much family income to access state health care, but still having too little to pay the midwife and our daily bills and forget trying to get out of debt. Others had less, yes; that didn’t mean I should give up and be “grateful”, but rather that we all deserved more.
Forget cynicism. Even if you have nothing to give, or choose to decline this particular cause, I challenge you to not roll your eyes as you click away. I challenge you if you send nothing to send nothing but wishes for good luck. Forget cynicism.
What do I know about her, really? She’s a person with an illness, wanting and trying to get better and being blocked by bureaucracies and capitalism and the alchemy of greed, ableism, and misogyny that allows insurance companies to deny payment for full courses of treatment for eating disorders.
Might it be a scam? Maybe. But I have no reason to think so, and every reason to think it’s entirely legitimate. And even if it is, what would a donor of $25 lose? $25. Not a bad price, if you can afford it (and if you can’t comfortably do so, please send wishes and retweets and know that is more than enough), for the reminder that you are not entirely immobilized by cynicism. I would be out more — social capital, readership trust — and I deem it more than worth the negligible risk.
Why her? Because a friend asked, and I was able. It really is that simple.
…and not someone else? No reason why not, except that there is never as much time or ability to blog about all that I want to or plan to. And see below for my woo woo rejection of zero-sum thinking.
Why one person with an eating disorder, when that much money could help so many others with different illnesses? Because I deny the culture of lack rather than the belief of abundance that question is based on. I reject that human lives can be measured and weighed so dispassionately. I assert that if one person is not worth an entire community’s support, the community is not worth one person’s effort.
What if she doesn’t make it? What if she doesn’t get better? Oh, cynical, hurting, lacking me, who asks this question. Dear self: you are worth the world, without doing a thing to earn it. You are worth all care, all money, all love, regardless of what happens after. You are worth effort, regardless of outcome. And so, therefore, is everyone else. So, specifically, is Sophia.
So this is my plea, for hope and selflessness instead of cynicism. For abundance, instead of lack. For Sophia.
This post is a part of a Blog-a-Day group effort to have one blog post each day in October to raise funds for Sophia’s treatment, and awareness of eating disorders and the deficits in insurance coverage. See the list at Tumblr to read already published posts and check back in throughout the month as more go live. There are still a few spots left if you wish to participate at your own blog.