Monthly Archives: June 2009

Solidarity with the Poor

The other night I spent a good two hours planning out how to strategically get rid of the last few postpartum pounds.  I went on-line and discovered diet and eating plans galore.  You’ve seen them: don’t eat this type of food for two weeks.  Then enter this phase where you combine other types of food.  Avoid toxins.  Buy organic.  Go veg.  Food management.

Then today I read Compassion’s current newsletter which described the challenges the current financial crisis presents for the very poor.  Wes Stafford writes:

“A woman in West Africa told me, with her head bowed, ‘Now we have no food for our children.  We serve them warm, salted water … at least it seems like food as they swallow it.’  In Haiti, mothers are making dirt ‘cookies.’  They mix together mud, oil and salt, shape the ‘dough’ into cookies and bake them in the scorching sun.  In my 32 years with Compassion, I have never seen the poor so poor.”

I have food management plans when others would just be grateful for some food.  It’s an incredible understatement to say that I felt very foolish.  In response, I began poking around on-line again, but this time to try and regain some perspective – to try and shake off my American mentality of excess and instead hunt down contentment.  I found some good things.

Nooma’s recent film (#23) teaches that it’s important to give out of our abundance, not only to help others but for our own good.  An awareness of the need of the world and a sharing, however small, shapes us. St. Augustine puts it this way:

“First and foremost, clearly, please remember the poor, so that what you withhold from yourselves by living more sparingly, you may deposit in the treasury of heaven. Let the hungry Christ receive what the fasting Christian receives less of. Let the self-denial of one who undertakes it willingly become the support of the one who has nothing. Let the voluntary want of the person who has plenty become the needed plenty of the person in want.”

I was encouraged and inspired by the relatively small lifestyle changes other people have adopted to this end.

Mike Foster chooses to drive (in his own words) a Junky Car, so that the money he would have spent on a car payment can go to others.

Diedre Pujols’ website offers recipes and cooking tips from the Dominican Republic, the proceeds of which go to help the women there.

And Thomas Smith has compiled a whole list of suggestions on small ways to foster solidarity with the poor.

And me?  I’m working out a solidarity management plan.  Maybe I’ll start with a few phases: don’t buy this.  Instead, invest money in those who have nothing.  Avoid excess.  Live with contentment.  Give generously.

Solidarity management.

Food for thought.

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