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Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Local vs. Global giving

I just wrote a ridiculously long comment in reply to B Crump's comment on yesterday's post and when I clicked "publish," it disappeared! Ugh! So, I decided to try again here instead of in comments because I think that Bonar makes an excellent point. Here's what he had to say:

matt 12:44 talks about watching a widow give such a small amount in comparison to others, but she gave out of her need instead of out of her excess. Cool story and you would assume that her gift was more important than the others. I'm not so sure. I think that the gift she gave proved to be more important to HER than the other gifts were important to their perspective givers. If that's true then it makes me wonder if our giving isn't more important to us *as the giver* then it is to the cause we're giving to. That's my take, anyways.

What it puts me in the mind of is that when we give out of grace, compassion, and a loving mindset it is more beneficial to us *as the giver* than if we give out of guilt or from a sense of responsibility. After all, any non-profit you might donate to in this situation uses approximately 50-60% of revenues to cover overhead costs and such.

At the Crump casa we've developed a set strategy for giving to local causes alone. I just can't see past the homeless guy that lives in a tent on Riverside that I run past all the time in order to throw money at Japan. I'm overwhelmed by the human suffering in Japan, but I'm holding fast to our local strategy because I have to take care of my neighbors closest first before I'm able to offer a leg up to those halfway around the world.

Read the article posting on my site today about the single homeless mom that recently wrote a book of poetry. Her plea at the end is to give to your local communities and local causes before sending your dollars to overseas causes. I'm thinking she's right.

Don't get me wrong. You know good and well I'm cheering for the Japanese people like they were the Cowboys winning a superbowl. But they're not getting my money or my time. The local needs of my community will be benefiting from the Crump household. I'm globally minded, but locally consistent. My heart continues to ache for the Haitians as well as the Japanese, but I've got meals to serve at John 3:16 Mission and they're gonna be pissed if I don't show up because I'm watching news footage of Japan.

...or maybe I'm making all this up and I don't give a rat...

Go save the world, Brooke. Just do it in tight little nested circles which gradually move outward from your home. You won't get very far, but you'll make the largest overall impact to the world as a whole. Teaching those kiddos the meaning of giving is far more important to the well-being of the world we share than any amount of money you collect in the jar. They'll continue to give for the rest of their lives because of you. They might even learn a thing or two from Jeff, but I doubt it.

I think this is a great point not because I think the suffering of people here is more important than the suffering of people abroad, but because I wonder who will help out the homeless man living in a tent on Riverside if we don't do it? I am unaware of organizations overseas who are dedicated to giving money to help homeless people in America - at least on a large scale. Check this out. Generally, people in other nations don't give to us  because we are a wealthy nation. Despite that wealth, we have many people living in desperate poverty right here in the US of A. Who will help them if we send our contributions overseas?

That being said, I think there are a couple of pitfalls to note as well.

First - and this is not directed toward B Crump. I know him personally and know his heart. He and his wife are wonderful, giving people. In fact, you should check out his blog, he puts great stuff on it. Anyhoo - First, I think that some people use the idea of "helping our own" as thinly-veiled racism and discrimination. I think that "helping our own" often translates to "helping white heterosexual Christians." Not always, people. Not always. But let's be honest. It's out there.There are local organizations that I think do good things for the community and I would like to support them, but I don't agree with the restrictions they put on who can and can't receive their services. They are within their rights and may provide services or not provide services to whomever they choose. But for me and my dollars, I believe that need crosses the boundaries of race, religion, sexual orientation, and immigration status and so my charity crosses those boundaries as well. As for you and your dollars, well, that is entirely up to you.

This is not to say that all local organizations discriminate. I am not trying to say that at all. I am trying to say that we should all educate ourselves and make decisions accordingly. I think that the adage of "Think Globally, Act Locally" has serious merit. However,...

Second - I want my kids to understand the connections between people around the world. I want my kids to understand that when a family in Japan hurts, it feels the same as when our family hurts. Obviously, there are other ways to share this lesson with your children.

I know that suffering is part of the human condition. Maybe when I see suffering in the world, I feel compelled to do something because of an intense need to make myself feel better. Maybe I just need to put my big-girl pants on and understand that there are just some things that are ugly, hard, or sad and there's not a thing I can do about it and maybe even not a thing I should do about it. I don't know. I just don't know. I don't have any of this figured out. What do you think?

B Crump - Your points are well-taken. I understand what you mean. Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts. I read your blog and Carey Fuller is an amazingly strong and courageous woman.

Thanks all!

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