Day Nineteen

Day Nineteen: Carly Roberts (Washington, DC)

Perfect vs Good

One of my favorite aphorisms is “don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.” The phrase’s origins trace back to the 1600s, and it is as true today as it was then.

When it comes to fundraising, I have noticed in myself and others around me a malignant cynicism growing out of what was once healthy caution- especially when that fundraising is associated with public actions.

I’m reminded specifically of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. To review, $115 million was raised through the viral campaign that saw people posting videos of themselves being doused in ice water and passing on challenges to their friends to do the same. The funds raised from this stunt-driven effort allowed scientists to discover three new genes contributing to the disease; discoveries which will help identify new therapies for ALS.

This we know in retrospect. In the heyday of the fundraiser, a crop of criticisms casting aspersion on the participants and the ALS Association rose from what seemed like every corner of the internet. Some were the unfounded armchair critic types that are attracted by any viral sensation, while others floated more fact-based criticisms, using phrases like “funding cannibalism.”  All discouraged participation in the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge.

I was challenged and made a video, but chose to take it down after reading some of the criticism. At the time, I was serving in a leadership position on my college campus and was cautious (trending towards paranoid) about ensuring that my public actions were not cause for controversy. I wish I had kept the video up.

While it is vitally important to examine our motivations for participating in public awareness and fundraising and to ensure that solicited funds are directed to reputable, responsible charities, we can’t let fear of getting it wrong paralyze us.

When I was invited to participate in Dressember, my thoughts first ran to concerns about how I would be perceived for participating. I was worried that people would think I was just doing it to get attention or to make myself feel good. But then I remembered the ALS Ice Bucket challenge, and all of the other times I let worry about people’s perceptions stop me from doing what I felt was right. After researching A21 and International Justice Mission, I decided to follow my heart and conscience and jump in!

Sex trafficking is a problem so big and hurtful that it’s difficult to feel like any one person can make a difference, let alone by wearing dresses for a month. But it is our responsibility to, in the words adopted by a certain presidential candidate: “do all the good you can, for all the people you can, in all the ways you can, for as long as you can.”

That’s why I’m wearing a dress every day this month. This is not an action in isolation, and it is not an action for vanity. This won’t bring an absolute, perfect end to trafficking, but today I’m choosing good in the war of perfect vs good. These are great charities doing great work, and I’m excited to be supporting them!

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To donate to our team page to support IJM and A21, two organizations fighting against slavery and injustice everyday, please click here.

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