Disclaimer: This is in fact a rant. I promise to return to my regular ramblings on running shortly, but if you can’t handle my rant, do not read on. If you think you can handle it, its still my typical rambling style.
We live in America (by we, I mean myself and the vast majority of the people reading this). Are we not at the top of the list as far as wealth is concerned? And are we not heading into a season where we spend an insane amount of money on the commercialism that has become the holidays?
I don’t know what your financial status is, or what your planned budget for the holidays is, but as we prepare to launch into the holiday season, let me propose something for all to consider.
Allow me start by saying, I tend to align myself as an Independent. I do not have any kind of political agenda here. I have some liberal views and some conservative views, and I vote for the candidate who I feel best represents where I stand. But more importantly, where I stand is Love. I am a human being with a heart for other human beings. And my heart aches when I see a fellow human hurting, homeless or harmed in anyway.
The world has witnessed much pain unfold of late. I could say in the last week, in reference to Paris, Beirut, Baghdad, and Kenya (I’m sure I missed one or several, and I’m sure someone will be happy to point out that I am an awful person because of it) but it goes beyond that. I could say this has happened in the past months, in reference to the refugee crisis and ISIS. I could say look what has been happening for just over a year right here in our backyard of Ferguson. But the truth is, we live in a broken world and these things, sadly, are not new. Our world has been witnessing this kind of pain for a long, long, long time. It doesn’t matter where you live or what your circumstances are, no one is exempt from bad things that happen.
In the past couple of days though, I have seen so much hate and anger. The name calling and the political slants that make people to feel entitled to put others down because of their beliefs are just not ok. I’ve read headlines against helping the refugees because we have veterans and homeless children right here in America. I’ve also seen pictures of some of these refugee children and read about the things they witnessed and the kinds of conditions they are currently dealing with. I just watched a video of a man whose wife was killed at the Bataclan and now he is raising his 17 month old son alone. It’s awful. All of it is awful.
But here’s my proposal. Next time you think, Oh yeah, I’m going to repost this article because it perfectly portrays my stance on (fill in the blank), even if it’s well intentioned, stop for a second. Instead of reposting that article that will either get a bunch of likes from people who see everything exactly the way you do, or it will stir up a debate with a high probability of turning ugly and perpetuate the problem, think about what you have done recently to support the group you so passionately represent on your chosen social media sight.
I don’t care where your personal convictions lie, but how are you helping the human race? Whether its war vets, the homeless, the refugees, whoever, have you given anything to assist? Or are you just sitting in Starbucks with your $5.00 latte complaining as much about a ridiculous red cup debate as you are about how the whole world is going to hell in a handbasket?
I am no exception here. Last week on my way in to the Central West End for my last day of training, I rolled down my window at the intersection of 40 and Kingshighway to hand a homeless man an extra granola bar that I had sitting in my car, but then today after my run, while my children were safe at school, I went to lunch with a girlfriend and splurged on a huge breakfast and a Bloody Mary. The fact is, our lives go on. We go from one thing to the next, we go from holiday party to Christmas shopping, we may drop a dollar in the Salvation Army bucket along the way. Or maybe not. Sometimes we are sensitive to the big picture of the world, sometimes we are not. Sometimes we get really fired up, and that’s ok too. As long as we are using that energy in a constructive way. Tearing other people down for not agreeing with our passions is not constructive.
Are we going to fix all of these issues over night? Nope. But if each person used the time it takes to repost that random article to do something for the cause that pulls at their heart, well, it would be a start. I don’t care what your chosen charity is I just want human hearts to stop hurting. I want children to have a bed to sleep on, inside a house. I want people who have served our country to not be tossed out on the street and rejected. I want to hug all of them. And while I know that it’s not possible for me to hug every single hurting person on this planet, at least next week I will have a chance to do something for some of them.
No, I’m not going to Syria, and I’m not going to be here saving the world either. But I have a plane ticket booked and my passport is ready for Nicaragua. I’m not asking anyone to do anything that I’m not prepared to do myself. I’m pleased to report I exceeded my fundraising goal, and I did in fact contribute a portion to that myself, in part so I am not getting a free trip to Central America. I guarantee I will come back a changed person. I’m going to drill a well in a community that desperately needs clean water, and somehow in my broken Spanish I will help teach classes about hygiene. But more importantly, I’m going to love some people who I’ve not met yet. I can’t fathom how I will return from that experience and want to spend a bunch of money on Christmas presents that none of us really needs. That’s probably why I have been preparing my kids that this year will be smaller, scaled back, different. Our church talks a lot about Advent Conspiracy, the concept of spending less and giving more of ourselves. I have always been of this mind, so I jumped up and down the first time they talked about it and it finally had a name. Relational gifts are where it’s at. Make something. Give someone a “date in a box” that you have to use together. Plan an activity. Invite someone to coffee. Give of yourself. Give someone clean water.
I’m also not saying everyone needs to jump on a plane next week to give of themselves, this took many months of planning. I just want everyone to consider that maybe, just maybe, instead of complaining about the issues, there is something you have to offer that can help even just one. Your resources, your time, a smile.
My friend Cheri Kay has been in China for the past 10 days. Tomorrow she gets to bring home her little girl. Cheri Kay already has two children that she adopted from Haiti. Cheri Kay is a single mom. She has done every single bit of this of her own accord. And because of that, there really are no valid excuses. Cheri Kay has a strong faith and an amazing support system, yes. But if she can go to the ends of the earth for just one, I’m sure everyone can come up with something to help end the hurt for someone, too.
*If you are looking for a way to give, you can still donate to Living Water International. Go to https://www.water.cc/ and you can purchase Living Water gift cards, or donate directly. You can also still donate on my Living Water page.