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Satirical Column Misses Mark

Satirical Column Misses Mark

Perhaps there is some greater joke in the recent column by A. Arif Husain '97 ["This Season, Show You Care by Dropping," Nov. 17]. Or maybe the column was intended as nothing more than humorous space-filler. Or maybe not.

Every year this season, goodwill companies shamelessly exploit those poor, guilt-ridden souls, who offer their "cornucopia of guilt-driven handouts." Shoppers walking out of department stores, having spent hundreds of dollars on Christmas presents, feel obliged to give their yearly quarter to the charity soliciting on the street corner. While this is not the ideal situation, it is a great way to raise a lot of money at once.

I'm sure Husain would feel violated, knowing that the solicited money is tainted by the guilt of cold, uncaring hearts. What might be surprising is how little the charities care about how the money gets into their treasuries. They take their guilt-stained quarters and give it to the people in their organization who have devoted their lives for the cause. They don't care about the thousands of people who give but don't care. They focus on the tens of people who care enough to give it all. The focus of the Hunger Banquet is not to make "victims of undernourishment rest easier with the knowledge that a gang of college students skimped on dinner one night." It is with the hope that one person in that room will feel moved to go out and make a real difference.

While he bashes the "hordes of people who take to Memorial Drive to piddle around in the name of some worthy cause," Husain fails to realize that a select few at the core of every organization make the real difference. Those hordes are but pawns in the game of giving. Do we, as an MIT community, think we're great every time we drop a quarter into a collection bin? Do we really think we're changing the lives of every homeless person to whom we give a dollar? Is Thanksgiving really a "godsend" for the impoverished? Hardly.

If you want to make a difference, give up your medium steak and cheese subs and eat famine-sized portions for the rest of your life. Next time you see someone out in the cold, give her your jacket and freeze for a day. Before you fork over another dollar to a street dweller, ask him his name. Meanwhile, the rest of us can toss our guilt-laden quarters into collection bins to support you.

Timothy P. Shiau '98