Friday, August 05, 2005

Natalie gets me thinking

Natalie has a powerful illustration about children starving. She wants the rich and powerful to HELP with one grand parade of private jets and loads of food going to Africa. I think that's a great idea, however, we can only do what we can do. What follows is my comment on her blog (plus a story.)
I think it is a mistake to think that "rich and powerful" people are different than any of the rest of us. I know it sounds too small to only help one person, but it isn't. It's just enough. So, I'm with the support-one-starving-child person. Every little bit helps. I am barely (I mean I'm-eating-just-rice-tonight barely) making ends meet. However, one very little thing I do is give food away to anyone who asks me for it. It's small, but somebody hungry eats when I'm driving home from the grocery store.
And now a true story: One time I was listening to a rich couple in Utah speak. I forget the man's name, but he is a multi-millionare and gives a lot away to charity in Utah. His wife was VERY down to earth and dressed about like I do. She said that a lot of people tell her it's easy for her and her husband to give away money and that if they had a lot of money they would give it to charity too. She says no they wouldn't. If you are waiting to give until you have a lot, then you aren't being real with yourself. She said if you want to give a lot when you have alot, then start giving what you can when you have a little. She said her husband was always generous. They started out poor. They were living in a little house and had several kids and she noticed that a small amount of money, which was a lot for them at the time, was missing every month. She talked with her husband and it turns out that he was giving money to a family in their neighborhood so that they could buy groceries each month.

That and other stories of small kindnesses have taught me a lot about being willing to give a little. There is some kind of hubris in saying "I will only do something if it creates sweeping change." (Although I still have grand ideas!) I admire small acts of kindness. It is saying a lot about the worth of human life to take action when it will only affect one or two people.


Andrea said...
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Andrea said...
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Andrea said...

Oh, dear. Sorry, Braidwood--I accidentally duplicated sentences in two places, and just now caught the other set. Here's the un-redundant one:

I like that a lot. I sometimes feel a little sheepish when I PayPal some itsy-bitsy amount to a charity--like they'll look at it and say, "Sheesh! Why did she bother!" But even if the amount is small in the grand scheme of things (though I prefer to think it does help) the act of donating is good for me--helping me reprioritize, even while I'm in student mode. What the lady said reminds me of what C.S. Lewis wrote about giving:

"I do not believe one can settle how much we ought to give. I am afraid the only safe rule is to give more than we can spare.

"In other words, if our expenditure on comforts, luxuries, amusements, etc., is up to the standard common among those with the same income as our own, we are probably giving way too little.

"If our charities do not at all pinch or hamper us, I should say they are too small. There ought to be things we should like to do and cannot do because our charitable expenditure excludes them." (Mere Christianity, p. 86)

It always surfaces in my mind when I weigh my willingness to spend $10 on a meal against my hesitance to contribute to good cause X. I think the lady you wrote about was spot on. I hope I can become like that. Thanks!

Natalie said...

I agree with you and have answered you in my blog comments, Braidwood, adding a clarification of what I meant by that post.
Thanks very much for the mention and for your story about that couple.