Thursday, February 2, 2012

An analogy

In physics classes, if there is a scenario where you have two people, person A and person B, it is often the case that we will talk of Alice and Bob. I had the lucky experience to have a college professor talk about MaryKate and Ashley, which I thought was pretty hilarious, so I will follow suit.

So let's say that MaryKate and Ashley decide that they have some spare income, and they each decide that giving money to feed the poor is what they would like to do. They both have good intentions. Feeding the poor is a good cause. So they find two charities, and both of the charities give chickens to feed the poor. MaryKate and Ashley do a little research on the charities, and they find out that Charity A donates chickens from a chicken farm where the chickens never see the light of day and eat a lot of corn. Charity B only donates free range, grass fed, vegetarian (they have really good technology to keep bugs out of the free range grassy area) chickens. Ashley realizes that Charity A can donate more chickens because of their operations, so she decides to give her money to Charity A. MaryKate is morally opposed to the poor treatment of animals, so she donates to Charity B.

Is it okay for Ashley to be mad at MaryKate and yell at MaryKate for choosing the charity that is in agreement with her morals? Should MaryKate be made to feel like she is doing something wrong by donating to Charity B over Charity A? Is not MaryKate still contributing to good (feeding the poor) while still being conscientious?

A facebook friend posted that he donated some money to the Komen foundation, following this whole thing. One of his friends, who is a person I do not know and have never heard of, commented that she was "disappointed he felt this way" among other things. I just think it is the most ridiculous thing that someone would try to make a person feel bad for donating to a charity that has a mission in accordance with one's sense of morality.

I understand that there will forever be a debate as to whether abortion is a women's issue or a life issue.

I really hope I am not guilty of this in this post, but people need to take the time to think through what they are about to say before saying it, lest it be deemed illogical, rude, and unfair.

Also, please don't be "disappointed in me" if I choose those vegetarian chickens, because they are just so cute running around in their fresh green grass.


  1. But what if charity A had 97% vegetarian chickens & 3% corn-fed chickens and charity B raised pigs?

    **Not trying to support any expression of disappointment in following one's morals. I just don't think it's quite so black and white.

  2. I guess I'm not sure what you mean..

    I'll agree that real life is never so black and white.

    The thing I am really upset about is that someone was criticized for doing something good.

  3. Okay, so further thoughts on the less black and white option.

    To clarify, my point in this post was intended to make no statement about the choice. What I am trying to understand is not 'which choice do I make' but rather, 'is it okay to criticize someone whose choice is not in agreement with my own'.

    Obviously MaryKate and Ashley are in disagreement, because they choose to fund different charities. But for what reason can you be disappointed in someone for choosing to donate to Komen? This is what I can't make sense of.

    I understand that people disagree with pulling funding from PP, but I have yet to find a source saying that the funding is being reallocated to something that people are morally opposed to. The mission of Komen is quite clear, and unless they are pulling money from PP to use those funds for something contrary to the mission, I don't understand the source for disappointment.

    And actually, my biased opinion leads me to completely understand if the situation were reversed. I would disagree with someones choice to donate money to PP, to the point where I was disappointed, due to a moral opposition to some of their practices.

    Does that make me a hypocrite?

  4. To clarify my point: I think the "disappointment" some people feel stems from what I would call an unfair characterization of PP.

    Yes, PP funds abortions, but it is certainly not all they do. So, should someone not give to PP even though 97% of the work they do is not morally objectionable? Maybe...maybe not. Even if they feel they can't give, is it right to characterize PP as 100% bad for a small amount of what they do?

    I was just making the point that if it were a choice between 2 charities that do the exact same thing and yet one of them had practices that were questionable, then it would be a clear choice. But, as it is, SGK and PP serve different roles and have different missions. So what is the choice when you're comparing chickens to pigs? What if you want to still support the targeted women's health care that PP provides, but can't find another effective way to do it? I don't know of another organization that does what PP does as effectively (in terms of women's healthcare)

    In response to your comment: You're allowed to feel how you feel about someone's actions. I think it's about what you do with your feelings. For instance, telling someone that you're disappointed in their decision is probably not the most constructive way to open a dialogue that leads to some sort of understanding.

    Just my opinion, obviously. Also, this is interesting:

  5. P.S. I've enjoyed our conversation. We should, you know, talk face to face sometime. hahaha...

  6. hah! Yes, face-to-face talking is good. This is good too though. It gives me more time to ponder, reform thoughts, think up new questions, etc.

  7. Yes, I certainly agree that you are allowed to feel how you feel. And I certainly don't think the girl who said on facebook that she was disappointed in someone for donating to Komen wanted to have any sort of discussion about it. This is part of the reason I opted for blogging, since my known audience consists of reasonable people (aka thank you for responding).

    That is a very good point about not knowing of an organization that provides women's health care without any of the practices that some are morally opposed to. Even if it does exist, it is certainly not as prevalent as PP.

    At the same time, for a person who believes abortion is wrong but still wanted to donate to women's health, I would think they would have some sort of obligation to find a different way to make their contribution. A person who fully believes that abortion is wrong, must then believe themselves to be doing wrong if they were to support an organization that supports abortion, even if it were only a fraction of 3%.

    Interesting that it only took two days for Komen to retract. Is Bloomberg still going to give his 250k?

    I guess what I am understanding overall, is that no one actually hates the mission of Komen, it is that they hate the stance Komen had taken. Or maybe they hated the fact that Komen had taken a stance, but basically denied that they were taking a stance?

  8. Lately I seem to have a problem understanding exactly what someone’s actions and/or words mean. So maybe I am completely missing the boat here, but I’ll jump in with my opinion. In my simple mind, this is the way the conversation on FB should have gone:
    Person A: I gave money to Komen because I agree with their decision to stop funding Planned Parenthood. I am against abortion and Planned Parenthood funds abortions.
    Person B: I’m disappointed in you because I disagree with Komen’s decision. Planned Parenthood does so much good for women without health insurance.
    Person A: I repeat, I am against abortion and I do not want my charitable donations to in any way be used for abortions. I will donate to another organization that funds mammograms for women without health insurance.
    The end.

  9. My two cents: I think that Ashley may have been disappointed in MaryKate because she chose to donate to charity not with an altruistic motive, but with a (perceived) politically motivated sense of self-righteousness.

    Would this person still have given money to Komen on any other given day? Perhaps not. Perhaps they just jumped on the political pressure bandwagon and wanted to validate the decision Komen made (rejecting PP) through a money-bomb-type action. (This is what I suspect, though I don't know the people involved, so one can only make assumptions...) Or more likely, it was less of an individual statement than a reactionary move against the plethora of donations that PP received shortly after the Komen announcement.

    Still, whatever the reason for the grand disappointment mentioned earlier, I believe that one should always (and indeed only) donate to causes that fight those injustices that tug at their heartstrings. It's your money and effort to spend, so you should very well spend it on whatever issues are dear to you. MaryKate can donate to PP and Ashley can donate to Komen, or vice versa, and all is right with the (oversimplified view of the) world.

  10. Allison, that is a very good point, because I am guessing the intent of the donation was more political than whole altruistic. I hadn't thought about that..