Guilting us into donating misses the point

The Chimes Staff questions the use of guilt and abrasiveness as an effective technique for raising awareness for missions.

Students+walk+by+a+Hands+for+Africa+booth+on+campus.+The+Chimes+Staff+questions+the+use+of+guilt+and+abrasiveness+as+an+effective+technique+for+raising+awareness+for+missions.+%7C+Aaron+Fooks%2FTHE+CHIMES

Students walk by a Hands for Africa booth on campus. The Chimes Staff questions the use of guilt and abrasiveness as an effective technique for raising awareness for missions. | Aaron Fooks/THE CHIMES

Chimes Staff, Writer

Students walk by a Hands for Africa booth on campus. The Chimes staff questions the use of guilt and abrasiveness as an effective technique for raising awareness for missions. | Aaron Fooks/THE CHIMES

 

We have all seen them strategically placed along the heavily-trafficked path from the fireplace to the bell tower. The mission’s rush. Enthusiastic mission volunteers strain to gain your attention as you walk by. You dread making eye-contact, keep your head down and fiddle with your phone.

Yet, these outward signs of disinterest do little to discourage the in-your-face tactic of these advocates. The abrasiveness of the promoters from various organizations often prompts the opposite reaction than the one they intend.  Sure, they gather their desired donations, but out of guilt, not empathy.  Next thing you know, you have either emptied your wallet, made a noncommittal promise to return with money later or abruptly shut them down.  Otherwise, in an effort to assuage said guilt, you tell yourself they caught you off-guard in your rush for class or the cafeteria.

FRIGHTENED INTO CONTRIBUTION

Why must we be so selfish, to not contribute to something so worthy of our concern? We do care about most of the issues being promoted, but guilt should not illicit this giving. Instead, these missions should have compassion as their motivator. We will seek an eye-catching booth and a friendly face when the cause interests us not to be frightened into a contribution.

At least once a week, an organization promoting a great cause advocates for their mission on our campus. Just the other morning a very kind sounding woman began shouting across the walkway while I rushed into the cafeteria. It was not the most inviting way to ask for donations. Despite my best attempt at avoiding eye contact and speed walking past some booths, their representatives still chased me down. Then I was told a heartbreaking story about people who do not have limbs or those in need of mosquito nets. I have heard the story over and over and am frankly becoming annoyed with their persistence.

So now the question presents itself, where is the line between raising awareness and guilting people into doing missions? I am grateful for the organizations that open my eyes to the problems in the world and I truly believe that they are doing good work. However, not buying the t-shirt with said organization's logo on it does not mean that I do not love Jesus. I, like many other college students, barely have enough money to buy a cup of coffee. So as much as I would like to buy that t-shirt, I cannot afford to, and I should not feel guilty about it.

THE HEART OF THE MATTER

Unfortunately, the line between awareness and guilt is not a thick one. It is kind of smudged and faded. So we have to look to the heart of the promoter and the heart of the participant. If the heart of the promoter is not truly for spreading awareness, but rather trying to get names on a signup sheet then they should reevaluate their goals and their tactics. Likewise, if the participant’s heart is guilty then I would encourage you to take the burden off of yourself, because doing God’s work should not come out of a place of obligation.

Coming to terms with this issue is a two-way street, and both require a hearty degree of tact. The mission promoters, organization representatives and, let us be honest, over-eager student-volunteers have to recognize there is an appropriate opportunity to engage. If you see someone running to class with a look of doom on their face, stay away. Approaching them in that context will only hurt whatever it is you are representing. Also, if when you approach a student, they say “no thanks,” gracefully thank them for their time and walk away. Do not push your point ever harder — they will bitterly disengage.

On the other hand, students must respect some degree of pushiness to be present when it comes to gaining support for a cause. Most people cannot be bothered to exit the path of their daily routine. The job of these representatives innately disrupts us. If you can donate, amazing. If you cannot, you should never be put to shame because of your choice or inability.

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