Sunday, February 6, 2011

Benefit Bends Bounds of Benevolence

San Francisco - Attending a beer bust to benefit a good cause is generally an easy, quick, and fun way of donating to charitable causes of all kinds, but after attending one of these fund-raising events at Truck, at 15th and Folsom on Friday night, I now have a different view as to the legitimacy of some of these events.
     As a journalist, sometimes i seek out stories of interest, and other times they fall into my lap, as with this story.  My best friend, told me about Al Claxton, 35, who had severely injured his face in a tragic accident, and that the fundraiser was to help him defer the cost of his surgical bills related to the reconstruction of part of his face.
     I later found out that his "tragic accident" involved being utterly intoxicated and face-planting on the sidewalk outside Truck only a few weeks earlier.  I was dismayed to learn during the course of the beer bust, that this type of "accident" isn't new for Mr. Claxton, and that he has a history of drunken calamities.
     When, in the name of charity, does benevolence turn to enabling the behavior of the drunk?  When the repeated behavior of someone who is unable to be responsible for their own safety as a pedestrian, is compensated with accolades, laughter, and "Oh, that's so Al!", we've compromised the meaning of benevolence toward others truly in need.  Those with life-threatening diseases, who would truly benefit from any dollar amount raised by a group of kind-hearted people who enjoy having a couple beers for charity, in this case, have been overlooked in favor of an adult with no concept of his own alcoholism, who stumbled down the street to his own demise.
     True benevolence, in this instance, has been replaced by a shoddy, enabling facsimile of love.  Encouraging someone who repeatedly exhibits this type of irrational and self-mutilating behavior by raising money for them, only tells that person their behavior is okay.  Is this the message we have for someone that many people at this event considered a friend?  These are no friends, these are people who enjoy the tragedy in anothers' hopelessness, so as to not magnify their own shortcomings.     The emcee, a tall, husky Latino gentleman, upon beginning his announcement for the selling of raffle tickets cackled, "Why is no one listening to me?"...grow up and remember why you're there.
     At first this reporter laughed at the concept of this beer bust, but upon meeting Mr. Claxton's friends, i was saddened by their repeated attempts at sick comedy as they poked fun at him for being such a "dumbass."
     I can't wait until the next beer bust, maybe the next "victim" will have gotten his penis caught in the delivery tube at the bank drive-thru, and they'll have a 5K where everyone stumbles across the finish line.  Go to an Al-Anon meeting, and let's stop enabling each other to live our tragedy, and not our beauty.