I just knew it! Last week’s column focused on how many of us include our wonderful pets on our holiday shopping list. That earned me a few nice comments and one not so much. My crime, significant enough to merit a rather hateful anonymous voicemail, is that I did not bemoan how the billions spent on animals could, instead, be “better” used to help humans. To be clear, I never did nor ever would suggest that people ignore the plight of other humans. Actually, I never did nor ever would suggest how anyone should prioritize either how they spend or to what causes they donate their money.

I am not someone who thinks himself wise enough to set the world’s priorities, and I will not fall into the trap of arguing who or what is more deserving. People need help, animals need help. The whole planet needs help, in case my critic has not noticed. When it comes to charitable donations (of course the main support of the work of PHS/SPCA), I want all the homeless dogs and cats to find loving families, and I want a cure for cancer, and for the homeless to all have homes, and for clean water and nutritious food to be available to everyone everywhere, and for natural habitat to be conserved, and for the arts to be supported, and and and…. I really do want it all.  Nor do I think that is impossible. The whole “swords into ploughshares” thing has long had me convinced that there are enough resources to go around if we all agree that is the one essential, unifying priority.

I cut my nonprofit teeth back 50 years ago, in high school, volunteering for the peace and social action wing of the Quakers. I still remember one boisterous meeting, various people all arguing in support of one or another cause that they felt should get more attention, “a bigger slice of the pie.” And then someone said, “we just need to make a bigger pie.” Those are a few words I’ve never forgotten and, hopefully, my critic will learn to take them to heart.

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