Maybe it was the Black Opal cabernet I was drinking. Maybe it was the part about the family of five living in a crumbling trailer somewhere in Kentucky. Maybe it was the fact that the Idol contestants sang both Shout to the Lord and Seasons of Love. Whatever it was, it moved me.
I’m not usually the kind of person swayed by those TV ads about the starving kids in Africa. Maybe I’m insensitive. Or maybe I’m just desensitized. Who knows. But last night, during American Idol’s Idol Gives Back, something hit me, and it hit me hard.
There I was, sitting on a comfortable couch in a nice, warm apartment, eating Hawaiian chicken with sautéed vegetables and sipping red wine, and there were children dying in Africa. Cliché, I know, but last night, I really understood the reality of it.
There was this one story about a little girl who was dying from malaria. She was in the hospital with all sorts of tubes coming and going from her tiny little body, and she looked absolutely terrified. I thought about how scary it would be to be sick at my age, and then thought about how much scarier it must be to be sick when you’re only a child and you can’t talk or comprehend what’s happening to you.
When asked if there was anything that could’ve prevented the little girl from getting sick, her mom said a mosquito net. A $10 mosquito net would have kept that little girl and millions like her from getting malaria, but her family was too poor to afford one. I looked around at all that I have, thought about the paycheck that I take home every two weeks, reflected on my childhood with parents that could afford to buy me so much, and I felt my heart breaking. I wanted so bad to hold that little girl and comfort her, make her healthy and give her everything she ever wanted.
But because I couldn’t actually do any of those things, I instead stopped contemplating making a donation, reached for my credit card and contributed a small part of the $22 million dollars that was raised last night. Part of me worried that I’d regret my spontaneity once my cabernet-induced haze wore off, but I don’t. Today, I feel pretty darn proud of myself for putting my selfish desires aside and giving something back to this world that has been so good to me.
Sure, maybe it’ll mean a few less trips to Starbucks this month, but it’ll also mean a few mosquito nets, a few malaria pills and a few good meals for some kid who needs it way more than I do.