Kage Baker held, as one of her core philosophies, the venerable axiom: What goes around, comes around.
She felt it covered all the moral contingencies of behaviour: obligation, reward, the powers of good and evil. Not to mention the stern, strict judgement of the Universe, which hangs on a balance of spider’s silk above all our heads. In Kage’s world view, there were very few accidents. If you screwed someone over, you yourself would be eventually screwed as well. And if you did good, good would come to you.
As a corollary, she felt that it was therefore one’s duty to do as little evil and as much good as you could. It wasn’t to build up brownie points or avert the wrath of an impersonal Universe (Kage did not believe the Universe was impersonal): it was because you might be an agent of Justice for someone else. So you had to behave in such a manner as to be useful.
She wasn’t, ever, anything close to rich. But she did what she could. On Federal tax forms, when they ask you if you want to donate to causes, Kage chose things like education, national parks, endangered animals, veteran’s care. And she never, ever contributed anything to the government’s Presidential campaign slush funds – she said she wasn’t going to encourage politicians by letting them think their power grabs were a legitimate public charity.
Whenever Kage got an advance or a royalty, we went shopping for the local Food Bank. Big checks meant cases of canned tuna and chicken – protein’s hard to come by at Food Banks. Smaller checks went to peanut butter, pasta, rice, beans and other sturdy carbs. The guys at the warehouse got to know us by sight. That made Kage proud.
Since I’ve moved down to LA, it’s been a little harder to focus on accessible charities. There are so many! All of them would be happy for my help, but most of them want actual money; of which I don’t have much either. But I still do what I can. The AIDS Project is stationed outside my local grocery store two weekends a month; I always check to see what they need most (Coffee? Shampoo? Breakfast cereal?) and add it to my own shopping for them. I donate to local food banks when a check comes in. I buy my books via Amazon Smile, and every book I buy contributes to a charity. I answer the calls of neighborhood food drives; if my postal lady can figure out how to get all those cans of soup and vegetables into her funky little go-cart, I can sure provide some of them.
Today, I got a call from Jacob Weisman, the splendid head of Tachyon Publications. Jacob was good for Kage, and he’s been good for me, too. He’s a joy to work with; he and all his fine folks at Tachyon.
Jacob had been contacted by a non-profit charity called Worldreader, which can be found, Dear Readers, at (http://www.worldreader.org/). These good people supply ebooks to developing countries, to phones and tablets and Kindles. Most of them are in the keeping of schools and teachers, and the books are supplied to them for the use of their students. Especially little girls … So when Jacob asked me how I felt about donating The Hotel Under the Sand (published by him) to this project – I said YES!
Yes, yes, and yes again. This is the sort of thing Kage wrote the book for: our niece Emma, a little girl in a bad spot, who needed to know the world could be better if she was strong and brave and true. The Emma for whom she wrote it is a young woman now – in Annapolis, studying to be (surprise!) a naval officer. Blue water and gold braid run deep in our family …
What goes around, comes around. Kage believed in that circle, and that what went around would come back sooner if you gave it a good push to start. She launched this book herself, as an act of love – now it comes back.
And I stand ready to push it on its way again.