Zia Hassan

A Bad Cause

Whenever someone creates a fundraiser, they usually follow their financial request by saying that its “for a good cause.” If someone is holding a concert that they want me to buy tickets for, they might decide that the money is going to go toward helping homeless people. They will tell me that my money is going toward a good cause.

I commend people who decide make the effort to raise money for charity, but I sometimes wonder about what would qualify as a bad cause. Certainly, whoever is paying for what you might deem a bad cause must believe it’s a good cause.

It runs counter to the idea we see in the movies or TV shows, where there’s a clear villain who delights in seeing people suffer. In real life, there is much more nuance. There are acts that much of the population deems as a “bad cause,” and yet the person who is behind the cause believes it’s good.

And what about paying for something, like a car? Isn’t my money going to a good cause in that case, too? Sure, the profits will go to the car company instead of a marginalized group, but that means the company will be able to produce more cars, which is a good thing.

Perhaps a bad cause is just one without any effect. Donating to a project that is never finished, for instance. Even if the investment is time or energy, this is most certainly a bad cause.

The trouble is that we often can’t recognize a bad cause when it’s being funded. It’s only after we’ve given up on it that the time and money we spent are meaningless.

Everything has a long tail (Donnie Darko didn’t become a cult classic until it was out of theater) and that our creations are still valuable even if they affect one person. While there is room in life for failed projects, perhaps a value to try and adhere to is to finish what we start.