Saturday, August 17, 2013

Do overs.

Give a little.  Oh good grief, again?

To the ASPCA because, you know, someone needs to care for the puppies.
To the Red Cross because they help people in need.
To Feed the Hungry because, you know, somebody's got to.

It can add up.  Ten dollars here, ten dollars there, it can add up to a lot, even if it is tax deductible, you know what I mean?  How are we supposed to respond to all the charity requests?

You almost have to make a place in your budget, huh?

That's all fake, and it doesn't count for our virtue score.  All of that is just how we struggle with our conscience as we grapple with our place in the world.  Try that again?

On TV, we see an orphan in need and give $25 to some organization.  It's a big deal, but what we really want, deep down inside, it to make a difference; a huge difference that changes things and lasts a lifetime.  We can, but it's not a small thing, and not just a passing gesture.

If our own child was starving, we wouldn't throw a few bucks at the problem and feel better, would we.  If it would make the difference, you'd lay down your life and die in their place.   Our love for our children is visible in our life choices and priorities.

Now what about everyone else; our fellow man?  If we decide to actually care, it's probably going to be visible in our life priorities too.  So, willing to try one more time?

Our little princess in her new dress, danced all day.
Our loose cash placed in the Sunday offering for folks in need; is it enough to connect us to the rest of the world like a person who understands and cares?  Or is it just enough to make us feel OK about spending more on our cell phone than they have for the whole family for food and everything else.

We try to be generous, often with just small successes.  

If we could get past just watching out for ourselves, perhaps we'd ramp up our involvement until it was a real part of our life, until there was a legitimate sacrifice, maybe 5-10% of our gross income as a first goal.  We could sponsor kids from 20+ families in school and college, we could do microfinance assists for opportunities as they came up, we could come up with a couple dozen goats a year or so, we could make up the difference for a family trying to buy the land they live on, we could buy the materials a family needs to bring water and electricity to their house, we could pay for the materials for a family to put a floor in their house and for pads to sleep on instead of dirt, ...

And once we're in, the fun stuff starts.  We could coordinate the renovation of a neighborhood school, we could help a community to build a preschool, we could sponsor a teacher for a year to reduce the student/teacher ratio in a community, we could help pay for a well and an irrigation pump.

We could have a family that grows and grows.  And a legacy.  A difference that really means a lot.

Or we could just spend it on nicer houses, nicer cars, nicer clothes, nicer tech stuff, and in a decade we can pretty much double the stuff we have in our lives and in our retirement accounts.

On vacation this summer, we drove to the beach and then back at the end of the week.  Around 750 miles total, it's more than most of the world's people will cover in a year or maybe a lifetime.  After a surfing mishap, the emergency room service and follow-up was more medical care than most folks will have in a year or maybe a decade.  In the grocery store ... most folks don't have grocery stores.  And we think we're normal, that our needs are common and legitimate.
See the worldthe countries,  BoPpoverty, and inequality.
"Guided by the belief that every life has equal value, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation works to help all people lead healthy, productive lives."
"Healthy, productive lives ..."

I like that statement and the goals that go with it.  Providing a western template isn't help.  Helping folks forge their own path to health and productivity is a great blessing.

The stuff that helps?  Don't send T-shirts.  Don't send shoes.  Be a contributing part of the stuff that works.  See helping without hurting.
World Vision is at the top of my list for many reasons.  Community based efforts over decades are required to bring progress out of poverty. World Vision does that.   See how they do it.

Having a clue; it requires a life change just to find a beginning point.  Go see for yourself.  Spend the time it takes to grapple with all of the implications while you try to live it out.  Oh, and don't forget the puppies.