I have been thinking lately about how we live – our family lives, our community lives. Critics point fingers at divorce (rightly so in my opinion) arguing that broken families make poor community building blocks. And again, I must say there is merit to this argument.
Once upon a day, when God was a child, families lived together and each person (man, woman or child) had a role. The role was important and everyone understood that each supported the other. Somehow this concept got lost and we now operate under the assumption that we are autonomous and self sufficient continents. And I choose the continent analogy purposely. We live as if we can provide for all our needs out of our own industry. So if I am a man and the “breadwinner” I believe, and live, as if my industry is the source for all my needs. If I am a woman, and I am the “breadwinner” the same is true. Even if I am not a breadwinner in the traditional sense, I believe that my daily labor or role, is the source for all my needs.
We have simplified family life, and by extension, community life, to a supply chain. Earn, deserve and live. Money in hand equals autonomy. Of course this isn’t true. Living is more that being the ultimate consumer in a supply chain. If I work, and earn money sufficient to fulfill my needs, I do so only because of the cooperative industry of every other human being.
We are all connected and engaged in a dance of give and take. In simpler times someone hunted, someone gathered, someone cooked and we all ate at a community table. There was no need for an organized charity to tell us what our neighbors needed because we knew what they needed – we sat with them each and every day.
The problem with charitable giving is that we forget that the people we help are also those who make possible our ability to give. And that is why I think charity, and world peace for that matter, begin at home. I need you and you need me. I may work to earn money to support the family, I may raise children, I may give you the opportunity to practice compassion by taking care of me in times of hardship or illness or I may simply provide laughter at the end of your working day – it doesn’t matter what my role is, honor it and charity will take care of itself.
And that is what I think tonight.