Way back in 2010 when I wrote a blog for a major metropolitan newspaper, I was actively criticized for promoting my family’s charity work. Since I’m always trying to see the good in people, I thought at first that the other blog wasn’t directed at me. But when I read it, it was a clear response to a blog that I wrote earlier in the week called the Princess and Philanthropy. It basically said that people shouldn’t have to talk about giving to charity or volunteer work, they should just do it and talking about it was self-serving. I was stunned.
I wrote the blog to highlight 5 charities that we adopted during the holidays to bring awareness to the charities not to talk about how awesome we were. So, the other blogger’s comments really hurt me because she missed the message. However, sitting here seven years later I will tell you this: I firmly believe that people should talk about their charitable work. Why? Because there are people out there that do absolutely nothing for others and the ones that dedicate their free time to causes that they believe in are worth celebrating.
Yesterday, I had a similar situation. My daughter is International Junior Miss Kansas Teen. It’s common in the pageant world to fund raise and get sponsors because it is incredibly expensive (in fact, if we had known how many thousands of dollars the international pageant would cost, we may have passed). I’ve sent countless emails and letters and have struggled to raise the funds to pay for the trip and honestly, we can’t afford it with all our medical bills. Yesterday, a lady that I don’t know posted that “Maybe you should worry more about paying bills and less about putting your kid in a beauty pageant. #priorities.” on a Facebook Go Fund me thread. I was stunned and so were all my friends who immediately came to our defense.
People like that (and there are lost of them) make it difficult for me to see the good in people and here’s why. She doesn’t know our story. My teen suffers from Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, POTS, PLEVA and chronic migraines. Every day is a struggle for her. Yet, she has done over 200 hours of volunteer work for organizations that help chronically ill and disabled children. All of this work she has set up herself and she’s contacted countless organizations that have turned her down because she’s a teen yet she still tries. I think she’s worth supporting because her story is amazing. Think about it, how many sick kids do you know that devote their time to helping other sick and disabled kids?
Social media gives me pause when trying to see the good in people. Because you can hide behind a screen (and a fake profile), people wind up saying all kinds of things that they’d never say to someone in real life. It eliminates some of the filter. But here’s the thing, if you think our decision to allow our child to compete in a pageant is a bad one, it wasn’t yours to make. Don’t comment. If you don’t know our entire story and struggle, you have no right to judge us. And, if you don’t want to donate and help her, that is perfectly fine. But we have to ask.
Why? Because she deserves it. She deserves to be able to do things that normal kids can despite disability. She should be allowed to put on a gorgeous gown and feel beautiful. Her message about the importance of chronic illness and disability awareness is an important one that the judges should hear in her interview. She should be able to have one week at a resort where she can forget about doctors and hospitals and just enjoy herself. She deserves the chance to shine on that stage because she’s earned it.
And if you disagree, you can keep your opinion to yourself. That way I can keep trying to see the good in people….