I’m sure it’s happened to you.  You’ve driven two or three places, often in different towns, then you simply give up, go home, and order it on Amazon.  I try to support local businesses whenever I can, but if you’re looking for something specific, Amazon can generally find it.  (And despite the advertising hype, eBay does not have literally everything.)  This happens often enough that I’d set up my favorite charity, the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation, as my Amazon Smile charity.  At least I could feel good knowing that my support of the internet giant was being shared to help find a cure for a major, often unspoken, disease.  The latest stats I’d seen said Amazon had donated, I believe, somewhere around $45,000 to the Foundation.  I felt good.

Then I received a notice that Amazon is retiring the Amazon Smile program.  The notice informed me that they’re focusing on other philanthropic causes.  I have to wonder what they are.  Will they help those suffering from terrible diseases?  I think of the Vlogbrothers (Hank and John Green).  They are internet personalities as well as successful authors and content creators, and they hold telethon-like fundraisers donating all of the proceeds to charity.  They do this once a year and additionally they’ve started several small businesses, again, with all proceeds going to charity.  Like that great Unitarian actor, Paul Newman.  If you have enough money, why not give the excess away?  Both John and Hank have families.  I’m sure they’re fiscally savvy enough to make sure their kids won’t have to struggle.  And yet they give millions away.

Philanthropy makes me smile.  It is the best that humans have to offer.  Those who’ve managed to break through realize that there’s an ethical obligation to give back.  What with political Christianity we’ve generally outlived morals, it seems.  They no longer have the hold on culture that the social contract seemed to dictate generations ago.  So it’s up to those with tons of lucre at their disposal to demonstrate largesse.   It nevertheless makes me happy when I hear of it.  I don’t understand finance and I don’t have a head for numbers.  Instead, I try to support those who believe in giving back.  For books that’s often  But time is limited, and weekends are too precious for spending driving hither and thither for something that’s only a click or two away from my restless fingers.  I just hope Amazon’s supporting some worthy charity.  Human need is too great not to. If they are it may make me smile.

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