Thursday, August 23, 2012

word of the month: forgo

for·go   vt  \fȯr-ˈgō\
1 : to give up the enjoyment or advantage of : do without
2 : archaic : forsake
— for·go·er    noun

we're all selfish. until i had kids, i didn't realize just how selfish i was. but i do remember and appreciate the lessons in empathy and an expanded worldview that my own parents instilled in me from a young age (think: singing at the nursing home, putting quarters in the orange fish...).

those tangible expressions of giving are still vital. and in today's wired world, the lessons can take a unique twist. one of the fresh ways to give is a new app called Forgo. with Forgo, you choose to bypass an impending purchase – say, that McDonald's snack wrap or Redbox rental – and instead put the money you would have spent toward the latest Forgo project.

the nonprofit focuses on childhood hunger, orphan care, freeing women from sexual slavery, and bringing clean water to needy communities. this isn't just some amorphous sense of feeding the hungry, but actually purchasing an equivalent amount of 16-cent meals to put on a container ship to Zimbabwe. as a recovering cynic (who is trying to raise optimistic children), that attention to results means something to me.

i've been trying to teach my girls about what it means to "forgo." i don't expect them to magically become young-hipster-superstar-philanthropists. nor do i want them to go the other extreme and become doormats with low self-esteem. at this age, it's all about planting seeds. in the store today, we were exchanging a puzzle Little One got for her birthday for a puzzle she didn't already have. Big One got a little upset when she realized it was not her birthday and there was to be no new toy for her. i empathized with her first. it is hard to go shopping and not buy anything for yourself, especially when you're literally surrounded by temptation (oh, Target, you do it so well). but did she know that there were some kids in the world who didn't have any toys? and here we have a whole house full (a point i'm continually reminded of as we prepare to move and have to pack everything up). she was still upset, as she understandably would be, but you could see the wheels in the kindergarten mind spinning.

and, to be honest, thinking about what it means to forgo a want to fulfill another's need has got my mind's wheels spinning plenty these days, too.

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