Is it Enough?

The other day I was watching "My Super Sweet 16" on MTV-- for anyone who's unfamiliar, this is a show that gives us all a good look at 16th birthday parties thrown by kids whose parents want to buy their love or can't fight their sense of entitlement.

The two girls featured on the show (they had the same birthday, so shared the party) asked all their guests to donate money to St. Jude Children's Hospital rather than bringing gifts, and over the course of the party raised $50,000 for the hospital.

Which is a good thing. $50,000 worth of research and care for kids with cancer-- who could fault them for that?

The trouble is, the party cost $421,000, eight times the value of the donation. Nearly half a million dollars spent on celebrating two children and making them feel like rockstars. Does the donation, set against that obscene self-aggrandizement, have any value left? If the two students had spent the half-million on the hospital, and the 50,000 on the party, wouldn't that have made more of a difference?

When Jesus said, "The measure with which you give is the measure which will be given to you," did he have this sort of thing in mind? I'm not sure quite what to think-- I want to give those two girls credit for their generosity, but when their party cost eight times what they gave away, and the money for the donation came from their guests and not themselves, how generous was it?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It's hard to call something generous when the point isn't to actually make someone's life better, but to try to impress people with your actions. I think this illustrates, in case it wasn't already clear, that all acts of giving aren't necessarily generosity.

The party itself is so spectacularly hedonistic and self-centered as to totally offend me in a kind of "affront to the lower and middle classes" way. I mean, I think a good chunk of that money could've been put to much, much better use in, say, a socialized healthcare program or something. (But that's all kind of another discussion.)

That said, I don't really have a problem with them spending their own money on themselves. If that's what they want to do, and if they really want to waste so much, then that's their prerogative. What I take issue with is the misconception they're propagating that they're somehow "generous" in any way. They're not -- it was a stunt. In context, it's just a token gesture that allows these self-centered jerks to try to feel better about themselves, and to seem (but not actually BE) to the casual observer to be kind, generous people. Like, somehow, if they dump a little money at some charity, they won't have to feel so bad about blowing half a million dollars on a one-day event for two undoubtedly already spoiled brats.

The donations weren't about St. Jude's, but rather the two girls throwing the party. And, while they did accomplish some amount of good, I find it hard to really give them much credit for it.