Jarrett Stevens wrote an interesting article a while back on the dangers of compassionism. He writes;
“The aspect of this new awareness that’s most interesting to me, however, is the way that Compassion 2.0 is mashing up with Consumerism 1.0. As more and more younger cats get their not-for-profits off the ground, the more smart, savvy and saturated they are with the power and magnetism of marketing and consumerism.”
Essentially by appealing to the US consumerism we have launched a new wave of compassionate consumerism. The danger of compassionism is that we might lose the meaning amidst the deluge of quality not for profit products we can now buy. Sustainable everything is now marketed better and promoted cooler. If you want a watch, thats cool Hello Somebody has you covered, they can also hook you up with a sweet hoodie and hat if you want them. Feel like you shoes could be more compassionate, well TOMS has you covered. The water your drinking is tasty but you’d like to hook someone else up for life? Well both charity: water and blood, water, mission can hook you up and help you out.
Across the board you can get wallets for water and beanies from Krochet Kids in Uganda. If you want coffee then we have you covered, project 7 will hook you up with the goods. For just about every single item of clothing you can get a charity that will provide the goods. You think your undies are socially conscious, no problems PACT can cover you booty.
An they are all GREAT!
The issue is while you are in the middle of the socially conscious apparel storm you just brewed, you might have forgotten to dial in what you actually stand for. You could piece together an incredible ensemble and miss the whole purpose for what you are wearing. The danger is people can still feed your manic consumerism without fully dialing into the charity you are backing.
You have limited bandwidth.
None of the organizations that you want to wear are bad, they are all doing something fantastic. But rather than being a consumer, be an evangelist for the cause. Don’t spread yourself too thin, and become an advocate for the movement rather than a consumer. Don’t replace your social justice radar with a need to accumulate good stuff. Your time is limited so my suggestion is be an advocate for just a few charities.
I have a compassion kid, I love charity water and my wife wears TOMS. They are the three big charities that I jump behind. For my youth group we jump behind Compassion and next year we will build a well with Wallets for Water (God Willing!). Locally our Youth group will be actively involved with FOR Maricopa. My objective is not to overwhelm but be very precise about being a promoter and an advocate for a few charities.
The other ones are great, but unfortunately I don’t have time to be the Walmart of Charities. I want to get behind a few, and support them in a big way! I have to use the bandwidth I time I have productively, so I want to be focused with my time. Reduce the charities but be an advocate for the ones you choose.
This will help you avoid being a compassionate consumer. Know your charities passionately and be their biggest fan, don’t be the Walmart of compassion.