Juggernauts versus Underdogs

I addressed this somewhat in my last post, so apologies if anyone finds it repetitive.  Still, the more I think about it, the more it needs saying.  There’s also been extremely recent developments that make it even more noteworthy.

In that last post, I mentioned that Bat World Sanctuary was doing extremely well, against all conventional reason and logic, in the Mozilla Firefox Challenge over on Crowdrise.  First place, in fact, and vying primarily against Jimmy Kimmel and the Ian Somerhalder Foundation without the benefit of celebrity.

I mention this again because it’s a big deal.  This is a world where labor unions are despised even by the people they purport to unite because they’ve been subverted by those they’re meant to oppose, and where the voice of a common voter only serves to have him or her pandered to when there’s an election going, after which they are promptly ignored.  This is a world where big corporate interests will move into a community and bring such destruction that even the earth under their feet is ruined, and for all their outrage and how righteous it is, those who live in that community can’t stop it.  If they stay legal, they are protesters, and they come off looking like strident crazies with some radical agenda just for protecting their home.  If they take direct action, they’re eco-terrorists.  Or maybe even just terrorists, probably akin to how these guys were viewed back in their day.

It needs mentioning again and again and again because for that tiny non-profit to be uplifted by its loyal, everyday supporters until it stood as tall as Jimmy Kimmel and Ian Somerhalder matters.  It flouts everything that our modern society is oriented around even as it embodies everything that our modern society was meant to orient around.  Not only that, but it was the perfect culmination of what Crowdrise set out to do, which was to empower people through unity, through numbers to become a force for change.  Jimmy and Ian both could buy Bat World and the whole town it resides in, but for a glorious little while that did not avail them.

In fact, when they both chucked good form out the window and chose to belittle Bat World Sanctuary, and by extension Amanda Lollar, who pretty much is Bat World, it didn’t avail them all that well then either, only serving to bump BWS down to third place.  They – we – won that and the $20,000 that came with it.  We didn’t have the platform that either Jimmy or Ian did with which to respond, nor did we have what appeared to be affluent lackeys to make huge last minute donations to break the spirit of the contest and unfairly put us ahead, but we resisted anyway.

Had we had blogs on Huffington Post like they do, we might have mentioned that while even on the list of competitors, one could see what Bat World Sanctuary was all about at a single glance, while all one could tell about the Ian Somerhalder Foundation was that it was Ian Somerhalder’s and that it was a foundation of some sort.  And Jimmy Kimmel:  his listing literally just said Jimmy Kimmel, with a picture of his potato face to go along with the picture of Ian looking pensive as he no doubt ponders the woes of this our planet Earth.  Or maybe it was just to brood for the fangirls, I can’t ever decide.  Had we had the benefit of a mass media feting us, we might have publically questioned just how much Ian cares about the animals in his sanctuary when he’s been sporting a bracelet made of leather, and how he feels about this tutorial video showing his fangirls how to fashion the skin of a dead animal.  We might have questioned why his mission statement says basically nothing.  We might have questioned why he named his foundation after himself rather than its purpose.  We might have questioned why Jimmy Kimmel just put his name and nothing more, and if in fact his being Jimmy Kimmel is the problem he’s collecting money to address.  Sure, you could click on it and get more information as to what his charity worked for, but that’s not the point.

The question we would have asked is why they didn’t make similar comments about each other.  We’d have asked if they were going to work the same sixteen to eighteen hour days as Amanda Lollar does.  We’d also ask if they were going to invest the entirety of their personal finances into their causes, again as Amanda has done, but we don’t really need to ask that question, do we?  These guys are happy to help so long as it doesn’t cut into their camera time and primarily costs someone else’s money.  It will never be their life’s work as it is for Amanda.  We know that.

I said in a previous article that the concept of introducing competition to charity work made me uncomfortable, and this is why.  You might say it was a little harmless trash talk, but when Ian mentioned that his animal sanctuary would have all kinds of animals, bats included, and thus ridiculously implied that Bat World was somehow exclusionary, it crossed the line that people of his lofty ilk often seem unaware even exists.  When Jimmy plead to his fans to “not let the fruit bats beat us” and himself implied that fruit bats are a novelty that doesn’t matter, he crossed that same line.  How are you going to see those kids in Kenya fed without fruit, Jimmy?  Fruit bats pretty much pollinate all of it, and even you’re not actually handing them actual fruit, that big gaping hole in the food chain would make the rest of CTCs work very, very difficult as the resultant havoc is wrought upon the ecosystem.  Besides, Bat World is in North America, which is home primarily to insectivorous bats – that’s bats that eat insects, Jimmy – which even without West Nile Virus being around, is very important.  Biologists have predicted that if insectivorous bats were to go extinct, which is a possibility now with the advent of White Nose Syndrome, that insect populations would very, very rapidly reach alarming numbers.  Thanks to the money Bat World won despite your attempts to prevent it, they will soon commence construction of new facilities that will be able to house assurance colonies for species that are threatened with extinction.  Bat World does have fruit bats, but only those they’ve rescued from the exotic pet trade and zoos, where their 25 to 40 year lifespans are nearly inevitably cut down to less than one year.

And you, fey Ian:  so you’re just gonna throw all the animals together?  You have a private ocean at this sanctuary of yours?  A mountain range?  Marshlands?  Plans underway to airlift a chunk of the Serengeti to your sanctuary?  Really, it’s like something a little kid would say.  Besides, Bat World isn’t exclusionary.  You wouldn’t know this, but animal rescuers specialize because nobody can learn all the anatomical ins and outs of every single species, not because they only like one kind of animal.  Bats require even more specialization, because it’s not like any other mammal has an anatomy that even roughly resembles a bat’s.  Because of this, rescuers tend to work together.  Just yesterday Amanda helped someone who’d found a wounded owl locate someone who knew how to care for owls.  Owls eat bats.  She keeps eight rescued dogs at Bat World, feeds a stray cat that lives behind their building (a cat that is smart enough to know to bring injured bats to BWS without further hurting them herself) and even a frog that has learned to hang around for the bowl of mealworms it finds set out for it every day.  At the Bat Castle is a kiddie swimming pool in the summer for the local raccoons to help them endure the blistering Texas summer heat.  At the site where the new facilities are to be built, plans are being made to co-exist with the very often highly destructive wild pigs that occupy the land, which even a lot of other animal lovers are saying is impossible and that the pigs need to be moved.  So yes, Bat World does help animals other than bats, and they do it themselves rather than paying someone else to do it while they go off and brood and pretend to drink blood or whatever.

I don’t say this stuff because I’m angry that Bat World lost its first place spot; unlike the Ian Somerhalder Foundation’s vague mission statement about “world change”, Bat World’s clear goal was to raise the money to commence work on this new facility.  With the money they raised, the third place prize money and Amanda contributing all but the sentimental parts of her entire inheritance from her recently deceased father, they accomplished that.  Many people who hadn’t heard of Bat World Sanctuary before now know about them, and as best I can tell, things look bright.  So even though two celebrity juggernauts stepped on them, Bat World still came out okay.

It’s the stepping on them, the belittling comments and the eleventh hour $10k donations just so happening to come in to charities fronted by rich men with rich friends that I object to.  I also object to Crowdrise hiding my post saying so on their Facebook page.  To be specific, someone who actually knows how Facebook works (I do not) suspects that they marked my comment as spam, meaning that I can still see it, as can my friends, but nobody else can.  Didn’t think I’d see that, did you?  You did leave it alone when I reposted it and after other people had liked it, so, thanks I guess.  Harder to be sneaky when people are watching, I know.  And the sad thing is that I genuinely liked Crowdrise.  I didn’t blame them for what happened at all, but then they went and de facto condoned it.  My voice is already so faint compared to Jimmy’s and Ian’s, and they tried to stifle it further.  They are evidently not all that big on empowering the little guy in ways other than taking their money.  You can help express your disapproval by going here.  Or here.

Lastly, I would like to state that my criticisms are only for Jimmy and Ian themselves.  No doubt there are good people administering those non-profits that are knowledgeable in their fields, genuinely want to be of use and are grateful to Jimmy and Ian for empowering them to do so.  I did criticize the ISF’s mission statement, but in the end I only think they might benefit from making it more clear what they’re about, as again, I’m certain there are great people working hard to do some good.  And for whatever disagreements I may have with whomever watches over their Facebook account, Crowdrise is doing a hell of a lot of good for a hell of a lot of people.  I was sorry to see the spirit of their Challenge undermined the way it was,  just as I was proud of Bat World Sanctuary for backing them up against the wall.

I’m just saying that if Ian and Jimmy wanted that $50k for their charities so bad, they could have written that check themselves rather than talk down to a non-profit for whom $50k means the world.  Amanda would have written it, if she had their money.  It all comes down to how badly you want to help, and whether you would still help if it hurts to do so.

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