Let me first say that I believe that the (RED) program is great. It has done great things, raised a lot of money and awareness, but I have to ask if it hasn’t done some harm as well.
There are obviously people in need around the world and those who are able to help should because if not for a few changes in details here and there, it could easily be you or I in that situation. Still that type of help has always been spurred by an inner awaking to the truth that not only should we help, but that we have the power to help and truly affect change. Such a realization paints the act of giving with a greater sense of purpose that more often than not, remains long after that first act of giving is done. It is what causes us to write another check, give more blood, give more of our time and etc. It also compelled us to encourage our family, loved ones and friends to do the same. This epiphany turns us into evangelists to some degree since we feel compelled to let others know what we’ve done and how they join the cause
Now the question is, does simply buying a (RED) t-shirt give that same sense of purpose? And if not, are we losing something important?
Some will point out that the money raised is to the most important thing and everything else is very secondary. To that I would answer maybe. Buying the t-shirt certainly helps the cause, but I wonder how many t-shirt owners become zealots for the cause. Does the purchase of a t-shirt purchase create any level of passion within the person to spread the word, enlist others and effect greater change? If I had to guess, I would say no. I think people buy the shirt and whatever feelings of purpose and goodwill that manifest are short-term and they return to living their oblivious lives. I think most people purchase the t-shirt and only remember the cause when they pull it out of the closet whenever it matches their outfit or mood.
Maybe I’m wrong. I hope I am. I think that the (RED) idea is great, but I don’t think the type of philanthropy it encourages is what we need to make long-term changes needed to make this world a better place. Philanthropy like this tends to be a fad and we all know that fads change with the season, oftentimes never to be heard from again.