As per usual, I was listening to my local NPR station during my daily commute, and I heard a story that nearly caused me to drive off the road. This time it wasn’t from shock or horror. It was because I was laughing.
They were talking about some Valentine’s Day fundraisers that were being held by various zoos and animal rescue organizations. Highly popular were the ones where, for a donation, you got to name a cockroach or a rat after someone. An ex, perhaps? And then there are the rescue organizations who will put someone’s name at the bottom of a kitty litter box and film their cats as they do what comes naturally.
On the face of it, I was amused. And I can think of one or two people that I wouldn’t mind naming a roach after. But upon further consideration, I realized that afterward I would feel as hollow as I feel when I get angry about something and use that as an excuse to eat an entire bag of potato chips. It feels satisfying for about 5 minutes. Then it just feels really, really bad, and I’m left with the same feelings that I had in the first place. And I’m even less healthy.
I was also thinking about the employees who have to do these fundraisers. That’s a lot of negative energy to be putting out in the universe. And while the targets of this fundraising ire will probably never find out about it, there are two sides to every story. You might be being mean to someone who really doesn’t deserve such hostility. If the donor is so bitter and obsessed, that person probably did well to leave him or her in the first place. They may even deserve a medal for having stood up for themselves.
It kind of reminds me of those revenge porn sites where guys post the nude selfies they got from ex-girlfriends and wives before everything went south in the relationship. This can mess up a person’s life, and it also makes me very uncomfortable that there are people out in the world who are walking around full of so much fury.
I remember a flower shop from childhood that would send dead roses to someone upon request. That really, really enters the realm of stalking. I’d be scared silly if someone sent me dead roses. That’s practically a terrorist threat. I hope the delivery people didn’t expect a tip under those circumstances.
At least the zoo fundraisers are for good causes, but if we’ve learned nothing else in the past 5 or 6 years, it’s that people are crazy and don’t grasp when they’ve crossed the line into nutjob land. For example, one zoo in Texas (of course) takes their fundraiser even further. For an additional fee, you can receive a video of that roach or rat being fed to another animal. Jeez.
I also don’t like the idea that people might equate innocent animals with revenge. That’s a freakish slope to start sliding down. Who knows where it might end.
I appreciate that organizations are having to get creative with their fundraisers to draw attention these days. There are so many places that do good works and are absolutely desperate for money. But I urge these places to think carefully about these events. They can have unintended consequences. You really don’t know who is going to respond, or why.
That thought gives me the shivers.
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