The world is an unhappy place at the best of times, but lately it feels worse than usual. Planes crashing or being shot down, civilians being wounded and left starving in the crossfire of half a dozen wars across the Middle East, the Ebola epidemic ripping through West Africa, take your pick. It’s almost impossible to list it all, and it feels overpowering. Like there’s nothing I can do.

I’m sure you’ve felt the same way at some point in your life. What can an individual do against wars and plagues? Not much, these problems are so far beyond the scale of us as individuals as to be impossible to confront.

As an individual, I’m almost powerless. I’m really worried about the Ebola outbreak in Africa, but I can barely afford to donate five dollars (pounds, actually — I’m in the UK — but it was dollars in a story I wrote) to one of the humanitarian aid organizations working to contain it without making a noticeable dent in my monthly expenses — and what’s five dollars going to achieve, anyway? Five dollars is five dollars, for some of us it’s a little, for some of us it’s a lot, but it doesn’t seem like five dollars can do all that much.

Thankfully, we’re not individuals. We’re fandoms and creative communities, we’re circles of friends and acquaintances. My five might not achieve much, and your five might not achieve much, but together, that makes ten, and that achieves a lot more than five. It all adds up.

I’m a big believer in the power behind crowdfunding and community activism, both of which have provided inspiration for my writing. I’m a member of the furry fandom — just one of a gazillion internet communities and fandoms — and I’ve seen the power fans and friends can have, from convention charity auctions and donation drives to personal friendships and just helping each other out on a bad day.

A lot of us are having a bad day right now. Plague is one of the few problems in the news right now that we can all agree is a bad thing, even if many of the others are political, but even in the midst of issues we can’t agree on, it’s easy to see that those unintentionally being hurt in conflict need aid. That’s why I chose to send my five bucks to Médicins Sans Frontiéres/Doctors Without Borders, who are currently active just about everywhere people are suffering right now, and who do their best to remain apolitical and impartial in dispensing humanitarian aid. There are a lot of other organizations working to provide humanitarian aid, of course, and I encourage you to find one you like to support, but otherwise I suggest Médicins Sans Frontiéres.

Please, add your five to my five and make it ten by donating to Médicins Sans Frontiéres/Doctors Without Borders. Go to http://www.msf.org/donate, follow the link to your nearest Médicins Sans Frontiéres office, and contribute to making the world a little better.

As a writer, my profession doesn’t allow me to directly help or heal, but I can say thank you for adding your five to mine and making it ten by giving you the gift of some of the stories I have to tell. I hope you enjoy them, I hope that if you’re a creative you consider reaching out to your fans in a similar way, and I hope that you encourage your friends and communities to add their five bucks to yours, and help you make a difference too.

Thanks for helping me to deal with a problem much bigger than I am.

 

– Malcolm Cross (30th July, 2014)

To donate to Médicins Sans Frontiéres/Doctors Without Borders, go to http://www.msf.org/donate and follow the link to your nearest Médicins Sans Frontiéres office.

To let me say thanks for your donation, and for adding your five to mine, please follow this link to get your thank-you copy of War Dog & Marginalized Populations.