Saturday, October 16, 2010

Morality musings in Barcelona


I have a family that I love in Morocco, but I can't bring myself to call them. Why? I don't really know, but I have a feeling it has to do with my house mother. Mama Malika saw a doctor while I was in Fez. He told her that in a month, she needs surgery for the inflammation in her stomach, or she might die. The surgery costs three to five thousand dollars, about forty thousand dirhams. If they pool all their assets, they maybe have two thousand dollars.

Except that I'm an asset, too.

They would never ask me for money. In fact, when I gave them some while I was in Morocco, they carefully explained that I am the same as any of their other children, and that they don't need money from me.

But I'm not the same.

Flattered as I am that they want to think of me that way (I wouldn't want it to be any different), I'm not the same because I have money and they don't. I'm American. They live in rural Morocco. I'm white, they're not. As much as I wish these things didn't matter, they do.

They matter because they all add up to the fact that I could afford to pay to save her life. And how can I not do it? It is a lot of money, for me, so it will seem exponentially more to them. I'm scared. I know that kind of gift changes things. It strongly tells them that I'm not part of their family, not really, no matter how much we pretend.

But what it comes down to, too, is whether I'm willing to put a thousand dollar price on someone I love. Would I ever be able to forgive myself if she dies while I do nothing? How could her life not be worth my money?

They already think of me as rich. Do I want to further separate myself from them, and further flaunt my wealth? I don't want them thanking me when I see them. I don't want gratitude. I don't want them thinking of me that way. I don't want to pick up the phone, and hear that she's died.

What is the right move? Am I asking 'whose place in the family do I care about more'?

And how do I pick up the phone?

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  1. Whoa! What a great post. This is truly a dilemma. I'm guessing that there are many others who have confronted this issue in different forms. I think part of the problem is that you really do not know (1) that she will die without medical intervention (2) that she will survive with medical intervention.

    Probably should call though. Good luck in deciding.

  2. I can totally understand this dilemna. But I think if they consider you part of their family, then it is natural that you would want to know how things are going and then you can decide how to act. Zor may ask you for help (since you are part of the family) or you can offer to try to raise some funds from the U.S. if her mother's life is really at risk. I think it's where you come from when you do things like offer money or ask for help that makes the difference.

  3. Hi Dear Kelsey:
    This is Dinny and the Attitudinal Healers are here at Steve's and my house for dinner. Your mom shared your blog with us.

    Without reservation here is my suggestion and the group agrees:

    This comes from you: "I can have the money for you...I can borrow it, get it donated to me, steal it if I have to (joke) but I can get it and I will not let you die. I love you, I want you to have the surgery and there is no question that any money that I can get is for you! There is nothing else that I can possibly do other than show you how much I love you by making sure that you get everything you need.

    Kelsey, this is from me, Karen, Josi, Dale, Liz, Steve, Al and Charles (plus your Mom). We all love you in this way and this is just what you do..with a clear and clean presentation you are showing them that money doesn't have any energy other than how it can be "given and received" among friends and family!!!

    xoxoxo Dinny

  4. Part of going into the world on your journey is confronting both yourself and big issues, as this one is. A tough dilemma for anyone to face. I'm sure you'll find a way through.

    Here's a story. My boss's 23 year old daughter went to South America and volunteered in an orphanage. When she came home, she decided she could raise some money to help them. She started an NGO charity. Rather than giving money herself, she worked out how to get it from others. She galvanised people to join her. Last week we went to a Quiz Night they organised, drank lots of wine and answered trivia questions. In doing so she raised 6 grand for the orphanage.

    While the situation you face seems to be a classic Sophie's Choice, there may be a middle way.

  5. Thanks so much for all your comments. I will keep you updated on what happens!