A while ago, I read this very compelling piece called Dear World: Let’s Stop Giving Our Crap to the Poor. It’s a great read, but if you don’t want to go down the blog rabbit hole, I’ll give a basic summary:
The blogger, Kristen, recounts a story of collecting needed goods for a trip to Kenya. One of the items she had requested for the Kenyan team was an iPhone, which she then received, used, as a donation from a local church. When Kristen arrived and found that the donated iPhone was essentially useless, she left them with her own. Upon returning home, the church happily offered to replace Kristen’s iPhone with a new one. Why, then, hadn’t they just bought a new one in the first place?! she asks.
“Just because it makes us feel better (and cleans out our garage at the same time), doesn’t mean it’s the best for those in need.”
I’ve thought about this many, many times since I read the article last fall.
I think about it every time my 1.5-year-old’s drawers need culling, which, due to the rapid pace of baby-toddler growth, is often!
I think about it as my middle child (and youngest girl) outgrows dresses and frills that her little brother will not be wearing.
I think about it when I pick up obsolete-to-us toys & fast-food trinkets for “the box”.
I pull out the baby onesies (undoubtedly stained) and the preschool dresses (possibly stained, likely with a hole or partially unraveled seam) and the outgrown toys (usable, but a bit bashed up, with a remaining bit of crusted on lint in the deepest crevices that will never be fully gone) and I think: WHAT AM I SUPPOSED TO DO WITH THESE THINGS?!?
Because I completely agreethat while “the poor may not have wealth, they have dignity.” Every human deserves dignity. Every human deserves clean, fresh clothes to feel good in & be proud of.
But, that t-shirt with the tinted circle from the banana mush that never fully went away: should I just throw it in the garbage? Is that better than donating it to Goodwill or the Salvation Army? What else can I do with it? I am legitimately asking.
My pragmatism says, “Of course, give them away. Somebody might need an item at a low price and if you donate it, that becomes an option.” But, I’ve started to wonder whether this is just an excuse to mitigate my guilt over lazy laundering and buying more than I need.
The truth is, I don’t really want to know how much of my donation actually goes on the shelves and, ultimately, to another home. I don’t want to know how much goes into the dumpster because it was too dirty or broken and I was too disinterested to clean or fix it. Because then I will be aware of my stewardship of my "stuff" and I don't think I will like it. I think I will feel guilty. I think I will want to change. And I don't want to change.
Can anyone else relate?
(Photo courtesy of Friends of Basha)
Reflections from my experience visiting a Brothel in Bangladesh
As impossible as it is for me to believe now, earlier in 2020 I flew around the world. The primary objective was to visit Bangladesh and see, in person, the life-changing work in which dignify has had the privilege to participate over these past 8 years.
A friend recently asked on Facebook for “the most challenging and enlightening resource you have read/watched about the problem of racism in America”. This question received numerous responses within the day: half a dozen films, dozens of books, podcasts, courses, and other hubs of information resources (as well as the astute reply, “Conversation”, which is, of course, the most relational and human of “resources”).
I think that this experience was shared by most people in early June (as protests & concerns over racial injustice had reached a critical volume): so many resources, so much to learn.
But now, 2 months later… what have we done with the magnitude of worthy, fascinating, perspective-altering information & insights that have been brought to our attention?
And this it only in the area racial injustice. In other interests & concerns: How much do we know? How much have we learned & read & listened to already?
Approximately 25 years ago (in March 2020), we did a customer/reader survey. I asked what you like to read on the blog & one of the respondents suggested a post on "living generously". What a fabulous idea and perfect for this time in history!
[The title of this post implies some kind of authority or expertise — ha! Nope, no experts here... just some thoughts on generosity from a fellow human, trying to make my way!]