Avoid the mall; Give the gift of peace

So you say it’s below zero out there, and your garage door’s frozen shut, and you don’t know if your car will start anyway, and even if it does that shopping malls make you so tense and irritable you want to sit down in the aisle and cry, and you don’t even have the slightest idea what to get anybody for a gift anyway, and time is running out?

Is that what’s troubling you, Bunky?

Well, be troubled no more.

If you’re reading this you’re already at your computer, so just relax and take care of your holiday shopping needs in the next few minutes.

Consider giving the gift of peace.

With just a few clicks here and there, you can relieve your holiday stress, help make the world a better place, and encourage those who are working every day for peace and justice. Make a contribution in the name of your friends and relatives, and give them a card telling them what you’ve done.

Aunt Peg doesn’t really need one more scarf, and Brother Joe won’t be heartbroken if he doesn’t get his usual box of golf balls. Really.

There is an endless list of good causes, of course. You no doubt have some favorites. But in case you’re coming up empty on ideas, here are links to a few of mine:

Wisconsin Network for Peace and Justice. A statewide organization with 167 member groups ( listed here), working to end the war as well as on prison reform, immigration, and environmental justice. (Disclosure: I am the co-chair this year.)

Peace Action-Wisconsin, Milwaukee-based, fighting the good fight since 1977 when it was known as Mobilization for Survival.

Wisconsin Anti-Violence Effort (WAVE), working to end firearms violence. (I’m on the board.)

And on the national scene:

Iraq Moratorium. It urges people to act on the Third Friday of every month to end the war and occupation. It’s a growing national grassroots movement that operates on a shoestring. (Discloure: I am part of the national core committee.)

Voices for Creative Nonviolence, a Chicago-based group which did the walk for peace across Wisconsin to the GOP convention in St. Paul, and which will sponsor Camp Hope Jan. 1-19 in Barack Obama’s Hyde Park neighborhood to remind him of his progressive agenda. Good people, great cause.

United for Peace and Justice. The nation’s largest antiwar coalition, with 1,400 member organizations.

Veterans for Peace. From the website: Our collective experience tells us wars are easy to start and hard to stop and that those hurt are often the innocent. Thus, other means of problem solving are necessary.

Iraq Veterans Against the War. Our most recent group of combat veterans have come to the forefront of the movement to stop the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Their courage and commitment are remarkable.

Granted, it won’t work for everyone. Uncle Fred, who’s still fuming over the fact that That One was elected president, may not want a membership to the Wilderness Society, Greenpeace or the ACLU.

In those cases, consider a charitable but non-political organization, perhaps one working to alleviate hunger or homelessness. There is no shortage of local and national organizations that do good work and are hit by bad economic times just like everyone else.

Here’s a site with a list of 100 major charities, just to get you thinking. I’m not recommending you give through this site; chances are a direct donation will help those charities more. But this is a good list to get you started.

And it sure beats crying in the mall.

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