25 Aug Beyond One-for-One Giving: What IF?
I scrolled through my Facebook feed this afternoon, and read that a friend is planning to get lip injections tomorrow. She has thin lips, I guess, and she doesn’t like them. I get it. I have a long list of things I don’t like about myself. I have flat fingernails, and gray hair, and a small chest, just to name a few. Those are things that a little bit of money can fix or hide. I’m an American. I’ve spent my life believing in our inalienable right to pursue happiness, so most of the time I do whatever I want.
But today I thought, What IF?
What if every time someone went to get lip injections a portion of the proceeds went to a child with a cleft palate needing fixed?
What if every time someone went for a breast augmentation a portion of the proceeds went to help a woman needing reconstruction after cancer?
What if every time someone built a pool in their backyard, Habitat for Humanity built a house for someone who was homeless?
Think of the good that Americans could do.
Yes, we are free to pursue our happiness, but the thing is happiness is so often temporary and the harder I pursue it the more adept it becomes at evading my advances.
Over the years, I’ve had the privilege of working with amazing organizations which everyday strive to make the world better. They beg and plead for every dollar, endure public scrutiny and then, once they’ve been given the stamp of approval, the funding rolls in. Donors want assurance that the money is being managed properly. And yet…
What if I looked at your checkbook? What if you looked at mine? What would we see there? What if we played by the same rules we impose on nonprofits? Eighty percent to our cause and twenty percent for overhead? That’s ridiculous, you argue. Okay, I admit, most of us would find that kind of accounting utterly impossible to abide. What if we turned it? I’ll give you 80% for your overhead but challenge you to give 20% to a cause you believe in. Could you do it? It’s still too hard, I bet. The average American household contributes just 2.2% of their income to charitable causes. Have you looked at your checkbook recently?
How can we be so particular about investing $100 in an organization that literally saves people’s lives and so flippant about wasting $100 on something so temporary to our own?
If you gave my friend, Sarah Buchanan, of Kula Project $100, do you know what she would do? She would send it to a survivor of the Rwandan genocide to help them become a farmer and grow a sustainable community—free from hunger and with the ability to pay for their children’s education.
Do you know what would happen if you invested just $38 a month in a child who is part of Children’s Hope Chest? My friend, Melanie, could tell you. Her refrigerator is covered with pictures of her “kids,” and she prays for them just as she does the ones who live in her house. They are growing up strong and educated because of her investment in them. It matters.
And just for a second, let’s think of our friends Mary Elizabeth and Esme, who were just regular kids doing normal things just like my kids, and now they’ve got cancer, and there’s a foundation who is rallying for a cure. How cool would it be if we could be part of that story?
Wouldn’t it be amazing if every time we ate at a restaurant the owner of that restaurant donated a portion of the proceeds to a farmer in a developing country?
Or if every time we downloaded a book on our Kindle a literacy program somewhere also received support?
What if every time I purchased candy for my children a portion of the sales went to purchase something nutritious for a child in need?
It’s just that when I think about all the things I get to do for fun and just because, I feel like maybe I should pause and think differently. I mean, wouldn’t it be fun to give instead and get? And what if my “just because” ended with “it matters to somebody else?”
We make time and money for the things we want to do. I just don’t think I can listen to the excuses, even my own, anymore because somewhere out there is a person who doesn’t have a choice. Western thought has made us both complacent and entitled. Complacent about other people’s suffering and entitled about our own pleasure. Facebook and Pinterest showcase a perfect life and with a simple a double-click of my mouse, I can actually have it. But friends, this picture of perfection is nothing more than a mirage. The world is broken and starving, and we have the means to fix it. Why are there so many mirrors reflecting back my own ugly greed? What if I replaced them with windows? I want to see the world, not just myself, with new eyes. I want to figure out how to make a difference both here and abroad.
We plan trips to the most magical place on earth, when we have the means to bring magic to the most desolate places on earth. Let’s make a pact to do it together. Just pick one, and do it. When our kindergarteners are getting manis and pedis, it’s time to step in and do something. Let’s lobby the places we frequent for fun to give back for good. And let’s do it at home, too.
How can it be an easy thing to feed our own greed and a hard thing to feed a hungry child? What is wrong with us? What the world needs is what Glennon Melton of Momastery called perspectacles. Let’s wake up tomorrow with new eyes and create for our children a new vision of a world that cares more about others than we do about ourselves.
May my lips not be known for their pucker but for their passion in moving the needle of compassion toward a kindler gentler planet.
Will you join me?
Please share your project in the comments below. Let’s check out all the wonderful things being done all over the country right now. When we strive to become better than we are, everything around us becomes better too.
Let’s do this!