Generously

This week, I restarted my gratitude journal. It had fallen by the wayside this summer while travelling and I just hadn’t cared to resume it this fall or winter. Or spring. Until this week. It’s only been a few days so it’s not like I’ve been transformed by it–I also don’t think I was really transformed by it when I kept it regularly. But I think it’s a positive and healthy thing nonetheless.

To remind you, or tell you for the first time, this is how I structure my gratitude journal entries, pretty much verbatim:

Today, I’m grateful for [something that I’m grateful for]. I’m praying for [something about my own life] and [something outside of myself]. I enjoyed [something that I enjoyed that day].

That’s it. I write in the evenings so I can try to account for the whole day when thinking about something I enjoyed, but other than that, it doesn’t really make much difference. The whole reason this blog happens is because I’m a trash journaller so it has to be short, simple, and routine for me to make it happen. But resuming it this week has me thinking about another thing, which I’ve kind of structured in my mind in a similar way.

I don’t think it’s all that unusual, but I spend a reasonable amount of time thinking about what I would do if I had money to spend. Sometimes, of course, it’s imagining how I’d dispose of lottery winnings (if ever I play, much less win). But often, I just think about normal things to spend money on. Furniture, plants, silverware, fancy spices (cardamom, always cardamom).

Some purchases are necessary and kind of exciting in that they are good things that you need, but mostly are actually not all that interesting. For example, my government virus money went to getting a new car battery (which I desperately needed) and a new phone (which wasn’t absolutely necessary but which was long overdue. Both of those purchases made me happy and improved my life but I don’t really care about them that much, as purchases or possessions. I guess that’s very materialistic of me, that I need possessions that I don’t even care about but I am what I am.

The current question about how to spend all my money is about donating. I feel pretty strongly that I want to be a regular contributor to things and I’m not sure what. At the moment, I do actually donate to Wikipedia monthly which I love (it’s like $1.75 or something so I feel it’s very in my grasp). But I’m wondering what you guys think? What are causes and organizations that you donate to? Do you do it monthly? Annually? Just on occasion?

I think there’s a lot of value to being a consistent contributor and so I’d like to have my basis of donating be something monthly. That also just makes more sense for the way I budget. Not to say that I would refrain from other, once-off things.

Thinking about this a number of times the past few years (during which I’ve never really felt able to put it into action more than sporadically), I have a bit of a system devised. I have a few categories of things I want to support and then trying to think about local and global questions. So here’s what I’ve come up with thus far and I’d love to hear your thoughts. The thing I like (about this in general, not my system here) is that it’s scalable by nature–it’s not like I have too many options because the amount I’ll be able to donate will just be evenly divided. Anyway.

I want to support the arts (something local like a community choir and something not local like the Smithsonian), the environment (something local like Harbor Wild Watch and something not local like Conservation International), justice broadly defined (something like local homeless initiatives and something not local like the Trevor Project), and the church (perhaps to the church I end up attending locally and something not local like the International Justice Mission).

I haven’t done loads of research or anything, some of those examples are just things I’m familiar with. What do you think? Any suggestions? I’d love to hear what you’re committed to yourself, if you wouldn’t mind sharing. You can just message me, I won’t make you post it to the internet, of course!

I hope that during this time, you are still generous as you are able, and willing to receive generosity as you are given it.

Hearing Voices

Getting political this week, I’d like to present just a couple (insufficient) thoughts on the repugnant things happening around the US border. I’m definitely the kind of person who rarely clicks on hyperlinks in the things I read but I think that these are truly worthwhile. I say that the thoughts I offer are insufficient and so I present the words of others and I encourage you to read them as well.

(As a side note, this executive order does not help those already separated and the zero-tolerance prosecutorial attitude remains.)

First and most obvious, separating innocent children from their innocent parents, and then to keep them in unacceptable circumstances, is awful in every way. Children. Not migrants, not illegals, not criminals–human beings.

No human is illegal and beyond that, offering asylum is a very straightforward way to do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with God. I do not think God cares one iota for obeying earthly laws; I’m pretty sure the Bible is clear that he cares about administering true justice and expressing infinite mercy.

You may wish to become better acquainted with the facts of the situation here, here, and here (and lots more besides), or with the history of this very American practice here.

If you feel like you want to take some direct action on this incredibly pressing issue, I can recommend contacting your congressional representatives here. You may also wish to contribute directly by looking at links here, here, and here. I don’t really know what to do to really make change happen but surely something is better than nothing and there are lots of different ways to give support.

If you do decide to donate, I would also urge you to consider donating monthly or annually, if you’re able, since these organizations will continue to need help far into the foreseeable future. Having a secure funding stream independent of the news cycle is often critical for organizations like these.

To say that this singular issue is symptomatic of a larger social and political ill is woefully inadequate. There is neither mercy nor justice in the actions of this administration and, unfortunately, it is not confined to this country. It does not take much time abroad, or looking at international news, to see this quite clearly.

Though I feel like on the scale of history, we are moving in the direction of diversity and freedom, the short term sure seems to have a different idea. As people, communities, and nations turn inward, I am hereby reminding us (myself included) that all people have inherent dignity and worth. It is in giving that we receive. As churchy people sometimes say, love the last, the lost, and the least.

Also, do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

My place is pretty much exclusively to love people compassionately. That’s really what God’s about. It is also important to remember that loving oppressed and marginalized people tends to mean standing with them, rather than for them. Lending expertise or means as necessary, but mostly just amplifying their calls for justice.

Indian author Arundhati Roy put it well when she said, “There’s really no such thing as the ‘voiceless’. There are only the deliberately silenced, or the preferably unheard.”

Let us, then, hear their voices and be moved to action.