Which is fine, I guess. There is no harm in help. I just wish someone had told me that's what we were doing now. Instead, as John Cheese was commiserating with the browbeaten and DOB taught teenagers how existing works, I was busy getting drunk and threatening to kill turkeys. Meanwhile, a massive disenfranchised chunk or our readership without a fractured childhood or fear of aging had no one to turn to for guidance. So, to those yachts adrift in a sea of rusty boats and refuse, I apologize. I should have offered you a compass sooner. In order to catch up, I've compiled all the helpful secrets I've accrued throughout 29 years of successfully being a human and, unlike the advice of my fellow columnists, these tips are not bound by moral fiber. In fact, most of them are surefire ways to shirk responsibility or trick people into liking you. There are only four, so this should be quick.
#4. Happiness is the Absence of Guilt
In a world of Haves and Have-Nots, you are unquestionably a Have which comes with an enormous burden. Homeless animals, starving people and a burning planet are all cultural wounds you have the capacity to dress with dollar bills. What's more, the Internet and the telephone have made the job even easier, but they've also saddled you with the knowledge that regardless of how much you give, it will never be the most you can do. You can't be a hero to everyone and that kind of guilt can be overwhelming. That's why I adhere to what I call the Zero Accountability Lifestyle. I throw money at far fewer problems than I will admit and even then, only at the causes that offer me some kind of recognition.
Match that, Greenpeace.
Then, and this is important, I discharge the rest of my moral load on other people. It's that simple. You can escape feeling bad about your standard of living by blaming anyone who supports it. You can eat a McRib while adamantly denouncing the practices of the fast-food industry or shake your head knowingly from inside your hybrid as it drifts through a water-wasting automatic carwash because what other choice do you have? The world is responsible, not you. You'll be surprised at how good it feels. Just search through the secret shames in your own life and see if there isn't someone else who is a little bit more to blame.
In addition, you can attach yourself to an already accredited group of victims. This not only absolves you of all your faults but allows you to cast judgment on other people, which, if you haven't done before, feels fantastic. This works particularly well on the Internet where no one can verify you aren't really a Native American or the descendant of war heroes. On nearly any site with a social media tool, you will see the Zero Accountability Lifestyle hard at work as righteous people argue over who has the bigger culpability-force field. See the comment section below for examples.
#3. Morality Credits Are the Same as Effort
It's crucial to always pick at least one cause you can support, not because it helps you to become a better person, but because you will need it in your arsenal when the desperate and meek smell your competence. I, for instance, am a proud sponsor of Heifer International, a program which allows me to manifest my support for needy families around the world in the form of cows.
And they are fat with good intentions.
Just as supermarkets and fast food chains will write your name on a donation card and paste it on the walls behind the counter when you contribute to their cause, so too will the families in Africa or Eastern Europe brand your name and likeness on those cows and sheep, I've been assured. More importantly though, helping such a worthy cause allows me to earn and save morality credits which I can use later when confronted by the more immediate desperation I trip over from time to time in my daily life. This is generally how it goes:
Homeless Infant: Excuse me, sir. Can you spare any change for me and my puppy?
Me: Oh. Oh, maybe you haven't heard. I'm a good person in other ways, so...
Homeless Infant: So you'll help me?
Me: What? No. Look, I don't think you understand. You and I don't have to do this. I already gave an ox to a family in Zimbabwe.
Homeless Infant: I'm so hungry and the winter is so long.
Homeless Infant: ...
Me: I also do walks for MS.
Homeless Infant: Oh! Oh god. I'm sorry. I feel stupid now. Ha. I didn't realize you had other things going on. Sir, if I may say so, those causes are really lucky to have you.
Me: They are. They really are.