The entire opposite of terrorism project started out when Marti and I decided to hold the first “Opposite of terrorism party.” Joanne writes about that in the beginning of this book, but now that we are heading into our second year of having these shing-digs, I think you might like to know what they are like.
My strongest memory from any of these parties is sitting on a couch with Marti as my folks house, as the guests started arriving. We looked at each other, smiled, and said “This is really good.” The basic feel that has marked each of these parties is that something good is going on. I think it is the combination of the good intentions of the host, the good intentions of the non-profit who is going to receive the donations, the good intentions of the guests who are donating money, and the general sense of celebration.
It almost has the feeling of a graduation party, or wedding reception, or Bar Mitzvah. It isn’t like a birthday party – because nobody has to “do anything” to have a birthday party.
So how do you do it?
The view of TOOT parties from a party-goer
I recently received an email from a friend who has attended many of the opposite of terrorism parties. As a matter of fact, Jerry is one of the main wine-buyers for these events. We provide the wine, to take some of the financial strain off of the hosts. Anyway, I really liked Jerry’s response to an email saying that some folks feel these parties are just people getting together and taking and donating a little money to some cause.
Here is Jerry’s response.
I feel that view is one of the things that actually prevents us from moving forward in creating situations wherein we can benefit charitable organizations, because oft times people simply just do nothing out of the feeling that they cannot participate in the strict, serious approach. Whether they do not feel they have the energy or the time or whatever personal reason they may have, one must respect it. And sometimes people will get involved after being stimulated by being exposed to issues and organizations in some small way, especially by meeting others who are.
The idea behind the parties is that it offers an invitation or opportunity to connect and get involved in a non-heavy handed way. Many of us cannot afford to write large checks to help others or to donate regularly, but often we can find twenty dollars to contribute to something without it breaking the bank. The alternative is the hard edged approach that feels that in order to do good one needs to be serious about everything, do big fundraising campaigns (which cost money to produce), and not appear to have fun doing it. So is the answer to be more judgemental and be serious about these efforts, throw a great deal of time and energy into specific campaigns for things? I don’t see a great many of these kinds of activities occurring in our community.
On the other hand, having attended most of the Opposite of Terrorism parties, I have met many serious and compassionate people who are not of our community, who work diligently for causes they feel strongly about. I have learned a good deal about several serious issues, charities, and other communities, e.g. the Christian organization that has for many, many years done so much for disadvantaged people in Virginia or the fresh view and activity of the young adults of the City of Peace group.
It always seems to me that the organizations have seemed very grateful for however little we have raised at these events. Even if it were just twenty bucks, it’s twenty bucks more than they had the day before. And none of the parties have raised just twenty bucks.
My nickel’s worth.