Thursday, November 4, 2010

Spend Less Give More

I just tasted a peppermint and it immediately took me to a place in my mind that made me think of the holidays. This is weird for a couple reasons; One, I stole like 10 of these exact same mints from Garozzo’s 10 days ago when we went for my birthday and this was my last one and yet the first time it “tasted like Christmas.” And two, I don’t get excited 2 months out like all the radio stations. It’s an incredibly odd thing to think about but it’s like in the movies when you see the character have a flashback and his/her “entire life flashed before their eyes.” Instead for me though, it was my entire holiday experience flashed before my eyes. The joy of all my friends being at home and the countless holiday parties and meals, time off from work and school and the joy of giving and getting presents. I’m obviously not an opponent of getting gifts on my birthday but for Christmas you get to share in the excitement of mutually opening presents together and there is that lack of guilt because nobody is missing out in your immediate company.

On Christmas my girlfriend and I participate in Advent Conspiracy. You can go to the website or just read my little blurb about it. The point of this organization is for people to donate money in the absence of participating in over consumption that plagues the citizens of America. The money you donate is not just sent to some random charity that chooses what to do with the money and you have to wonder whether or not it gets directed to the cause of your choice. Every donation goes to the building of Well’s in African countries. Many countries in Africa suffer from mal nutrition, poor education, and civil unrest because their citizens do not have the luxury of water. Water is a luxury that we have taken for granted and don’t recognize the power it has. Children do not go to school because the schools do not offer running water, or the water they have causes dysentery and other diseases. These students are limited to what they can learn simply because they can’t get a drink to satisfy their needs as a human being. The lack of education causes lack of growth and lack of economic prosperity. There are no possibilities for agriculture and livestock to survive which limits the nutrition of the areas and when the closest locations for water are 2 hours away you are walking to retrieve water instead of working and improving your economic standing.

This is a Christian charity, by that I mean it was founded by Christians and supported by churches. I think though that it is something that all citizens can get behind and have no theological bias. We can all agree that the amount of credit card debt Americans go into for a holiday is frightful and that the gift of water is far more fulfilling than any sweater or video game. Think of when you received your favorite present. Mine was a Nintendo 64. My eyes shot open and I began to celebrate like I had won the lottery. It’s so strange to think but these kids in these nations have a similar response to just plain drinking water. There is a video on the website that shows children dancing and singing because they know that these trucks are coming to provide them with water. Out of context it is the most ridiculous thing you have ever heard of. A bunch of kids excited for water? In the grand scheme of things these wells are going to dominate their new story. Children will be able to eat and drink without fear, mothers can start looking for work, schools can open and teach the children and the adolescents will be able to work on their education.

Every year Ally and I promise to get each other something small for fun but we donate a good chunk of money each based on what we can afford (because we are still poor college students) to Advent Conspiracy. It takes away from the American spirit of “buy what you can’t afford, for things you don’t need,” and contributes to a cause that gives children a life that is closer to what they deserve. Beyond that it is truly the message of Christmas. The perversion of Christmas by big business has only held us back as a society from growing in compassion. We have been raised and taught about the “greatest country, God ever gave man” but we still spend more on ourselves and create a calloused self entitled posture. I think that this type of celebration through charity satisfies the spirit far more than a blue ray player or a sweater. What is asked by the contributor (other than the money) is for individuals to reengage themselves with the people around them. They ask for you to spend time with people who would normally receive gifts. Spend time creating as opposed to consuming. I hope that this post reaches more than just my normal viewers and can shed a more relevant view of Christmas. I hope people can start planning accordingly to give the gift of water/life/freedom. I challenge you to check out the website watch the videos and not be affected. It’s impossible to watch those children dance and sing and cry and not wonder if you could spare an extra 15 or 20 bucks this year.

"A man's ethical behavior should be based effectually on sympathy, education, and social ties; no religious basis is necessary. Man would indeed be in a poor way if he had to be restrained by fear of punishment and hope of reward after death." - Albert Einstein

1 comment:

  1. well said, nicholas. my family stopped giving gifts 2 years ago, instead we only give one gift to one person. we give the rest of the money we would have spent to a charity. honestly, i'm not sure what that charity is ever, my mom's in charge...i'm going to put in a good word for advent conspiracy this year. i'll get the details from you at thanksgiving! can't wait to see you!