After a brief talk I did about Food for the Hungry at my show this weekend, I had a really great conversation with a friend about the actual, real, possibility of ending poverty worldwide. It sounds absolutely impossible, absolutely daunting, and absolutely foolish to think that it’s possible. But it is.
I think sometimes we don’t give b/c we are afraid we will run out of money or that we won’t be able to take care of our own needs. But we live in a culture of wastefulness. We take more than we can finish, and waste more than we can afford to. We spend more than we have and we complain about not having the things we don’t need. Giving isn’t something we should do to make ourselves feel better or more generous. Giving should be a lifestyle. We should give because it comes naturally…not because someone guilt-tripped us with the photo of an exploited, starving, homeless kid sitting in the middle of dirt road. We should give because we have more than we need and because it would be absolutely silly to keep it for ourselves when we see others struggling. We should give because we’ve been given so much.
In my very short life, the one thing I have noticed is that the people who are most giving are the people who are always taken care of. They don’t trip over not having enough, don’t stress about running out, and are always willing to welcome others into the fold and share what they have, even if it’s not a lot. I am reminded of a verse in the Bible that says, ”Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.” (Phillipians 2:3-4). Doing ‘nothing out of selfish ambition’ is a very tall order. In fact, the whole chapter is really challenging, and very counter-culture b/c in many ways, its more human to be selfish than to be giving. It’s more human to operate in survival mode – to wake up asking ourselves, ”ok, how can i make it through today without dying, or killing someone, or thinking about killing someone”. No one really wakes up saying, ”ok how do I make someone else happy? How do I help someone else make it through the day?” And if you do operate that way, most people think it’s a front…and sometimes it is. Because that type of thinking doesn’t come naturally…at least not to me.
So how does it become second nature? In a culture where our cups are perpetually overflowing, is it possible for a shift in mentality to take place? Because that is the real question. The question isn’t can we end world hunger or poverty as a whole. The question is: can we be less selfish?