This week our annual World Vision gift catalog arrived. For anyone unfamiliar with World Vision, it's an organization that globally works to improve the lives of impoverished people. Robin and I have been sponsors of children since the early 80's, when we saw a program on TV that told how a small amount of money per month from a sponsor can change people's lives.
The first child we sponsored was in the Phillipines. Her name was Nanette. Once she graduated from the program, we were assigned her younger sister. More kids through the years. Sadly, a boy we'd sponsored through his teenaged years was in the path of the horrible Tsunami, and was assumed lost by World Vision when I contacted them to see if he was OK. We take comfort in knowing that at least for part of his life we may have made things better for him. The child we were assigned thereafter is a small girl in frail health in Chile.
We are thrilled and excited each year when the gift catalog arrives. In it, one can purchase gifts like a dozen chickens for a family in the Sudan. Goats, milk cows, wells for clean water.
(Clean water? WOW!) Seeds. Fruit Trees. Clothing. Mosquito nets to prevent malaria. School supplies. It seems that in other countries the children actually WANT to go to school! The list of items that one can provide is endless. Some gifts cost as little as $15. Other gifts, like a barnyard of various animals, cost more.
I think the thing that our family likes most about this catalog and the time we spend leafing through it to select each year's gift of choice is the knowledge that we are blessed in our lives..not only blessed to be where we are on this beautiful spinning globe, but that we have enough. Enough to share. Enough to help. Enough to "spread around". It reminds me of the quote "There but for the grace of God go I" and it humbles me. That could be me. That could be my child.
The truth is, it IS me. It IS my child. We are all connected by this thing called life and responsibility. I am my brother's keeper. Some folks like to call this concept of spreading the wealth and sharing Socialism. So be it, call me what you will.
Recently, the financial "crisis" blew up into a disaster of epic proportions. I don't claim to be an economist, but one doesn't have to look too hard or have a fancy degree to see that a good bit of this problem was brought on by nothing more than good old fashioned GREED. Corporate CEO's that make millions after bankrupting a company.. private jets. Fifteen homes in fifteen different places. More money than one person could spend in their lifetime, the lifetimes of their children and grandchildren. Greed, pure and simple. In the world of these people, folks that need a mosquito net to avoid getting malaria while they sleep don't exist. It's sad and pathetic and so absurd that it's an abomination. The amount of money that just one of these people makes in a week would feed a small country of impoverished people for a year.
It's time that we acknowledge just how far off track we have gotten. It's past time that we begin doing what we were put on this Earth to do. Care for one another. Respect one another.
Understand that the faces of poor people we see on documentaries about far away places are really the faces of our brothers and sisters. It doesn't matter if they are Christian or Hindu or Muslim or Buddhist or if they have no affiliation. It seems to me that the Creator of us all would be all knowing enough to know that with the diversity of the human race that was placed here, different people would respond to different messengers. If one looks closely enough, it's easy to see that an awful lot of the messages that have been delivered through the ages are at their root the same message. That is, the messages as they were truly delivered, not as they have been manipulated by imperfect humans, but then that is certainly another blog...
As for me, I believe that the message I am in the mood to deliver tonight is in the form of the purchase a goat and a couple of dozen chickens.