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Sunday, March 24, 2002

Make a Wish

Based on a true story

The Make a Wish Foundation is a charitable organization that grants wishes to children suffering from life-threatening illnesses. On the surface this sounds pretty noble. They called me up the other day soliciting donations, and without thinking, I gave them the usual faked disconnect. It went something like this:

Telephone Solicitor: Good evening, I’m with the Make a Wish….

Me: Ah...click. Dial tone. Damn these cell phones, always cutting out at the worst times.

I use that one on all unwanted calls. Try it sometime. It is incredibly liberating when you realize it is OK to just hang up on people who have somehow got a hold of your personal phone number. No ‘sorry’ or half-assed explanation; just give the dial tone. They won’t call back because they all use auto-dialers.

Anyway, after I had hung up I thought about this charity. I had heard of it before several times and I had time to fully articulate my ideas on its specious pretense. They’ll do things like take a dying kid to Disney World or to a ball game. It sounds like a nice idea on the surface. The trouble lies in the potential for abuse. Take the case of the eleven year old kid in Sioux City, Iowa who faked bone marrow cancer. He even went as far as shaving his head just so the foundation would buy him the new Microsoft Xbox. OK, I just made that up but what if it was true? Wouldn’t that be terrible? What a horrible little kid. Let's get him!

What if a kid said he wanted to make it with two nurses at once? Everyone does but life just doesn't always work out that way for us all. What if you had a kid who was really sick and he wanted to go to a Cher concert more than anything in the world. Wouldn’t that kid be better off dead? I’m not a physician but I would have to answer ‘yes’ to that question. I think he has probably suffered enough.

Anyone who has read this far is thinking, without a doubt, that I am an incredibly insensitive prick. Sure I am, but I am also a bit of a philosopher. If I were dying, or if I had a child who was dying, I wouldn’t go to fucking Disneyland. In fact, I wouldn’t go there if you threatened to kill me if I didn’t. This attitude of buying your way to happiness or nirvana is at the heart of our entire society. This is telling these kids that the purpose of life is to entertain yourself as much and as long as humanly possible.

Everyone dies--everyone. It is as much a part of life as being born. If life has a purpose, and I'm not certain that it does, I'm pretty sure that it isn't about going on Magic Mountain. How about this as an alternative to Make a Wish. Read a poem to these children. Sit them down and have them listen to Mozart. Teach them about history. Maybe this isn't our purpose here but it isn't a bad way to pass the time between reveille and taps.

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