Of all the unpleasant things to think about, it's money that's been on my mind this week.
My W-2 appeared today and prompted a quick round-up of 2010 which wasn't terribly gratifying. In between some unpaid leave from work and a mid-year change of living circumstances that greatly increased my monthly expenses I realized that I've definitely let some of my long-term financial goals fall by the wayside. One of those was to increase the percentage of my salary that goes towards charitable contributions. Looking at the 5-year plan I put together a couple of years ago I'm failing miserably there and that's got to change!
Making steps towards that goal, my task for tomorrow is to increase my monthly donations to Millennium Promise, a wonderful organization that is tackling the enormous mission of ending extreme poverty worldwide. I highly recommend co-founder Jeffrey Sachs' book "The End of Poverty: Economic Possibilities for our Time". Focusing on the world's one billion poorest individuals, he presents realistic solutions to tackle the root of the problem, including sensible investment in development. What I love about the Millennium Promise organization is their holistic approach and a commitment to proving, initially on a smaller scale, that their economic model can be successful and sustainable. It's the "give a man a fish" cliche writ large and I do genuinely believe that my small contribution is going towards a long-term solution.
In other financial news, Buster had his long-awaited leg surgery today. He's been a bit limpy on and off ever since his shelter days but managed to tear his ACL a couple of months ago and the vet recommended surgery. Unfortunately it turns out he's quite a distinguished chap, and the surgeon claimed that of all the knees he's tackled this was one of the worst. Once they got in there, they uncovered some fairly nasty arthritic growth, and, in addition to the ACL injury, a torn meniscus. He had a couple of (benign) tumors removed at the same time so all told the surgery and the next few weeks worth of meds came to $3080. OUCH.
Dogdad is still reeling.
How do I reconcile spending that kind of money on a dog given the abysmal conditions in which many of my fellow human beings live? Well, so far, I haven't managed to do so and I admit that it makes me extremely uncomfortable. The closest I've come to personal justification is to make a rule that I donate money almost solely to charities that assist with human basic needs, and offer only my time to other causes. But then I do put an awful lot of energy into volunteering to better the lot of Chicago-area dogs. I can't help but notice that most of the dogs I know receive better medical care than many Chicago humans (let along those in less-developed countries), and Clover's dad is fond of reminding me that Billy eats better than many people.
I have to admit that it strikes me as strange that in all of the dog-related blogs I've perused, I've never come across an owner, professional or rescue advocate publicly wrestling with the same conundrum. Given that dogs are no doubt here to stay in my life I don't see a resolution to my own conflict any time soon.
In the meantime I take some consolation in the fact that even some of the world's most admirable philosophers have advised us to at least show compassion towards animals.
"The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated "
- Mahatma Gandhi