About Me

The Slightly Cynical Side

As you can see, I’ve been posting videos and thoughts about the One Campaign. I think it is a wonderful, hopeful campaign that is bringing people of different faiths and beliefs together to add their voice of concern to the on-going genocide, HIV/AIDS pandemic, hunger, poverty, disease and war in Africa. The problem there is enormous. For example, I recently heard that HIV/AIDS education is so poor in Africa that many men who have contracted HIV/AIDS–and whom are not faithful to one woman or their wives–believe that the way to get rid of AIDS is to have sex with a virgin. Therefore, young girls are being raped, getting AIDS, and some are giving birth to children who are born with AIDS. So something needs to be done.

But then I also have a more cynical side. I was at home with my wife when we saw Bono on Oprah. Now, you must understand, I don’t like Oprah! Never have! I think she’s self-important and condescending. But I will say that she is one of the few people I know of who have decided that wealth and power aren’t just for her own use. So, I guess at the end of the day, I do kinda, sorta like Oprah, maybe.

Anyway, the two–Bono and Oprah–were discussing and launching the Red campaign. At first, I thought it was great. Red ipods. Red T-shirts. Red. Red. Red!

But then I thought, “How sad!” The devastation occurring in Africa isn’t moving enough to get Americans involved on its own. We have to have products to get us interested! Now in a way this is good. For instance, people who are preparing to purchase Christmas gifts can give Red products and part of the money will go to a good cause. But how consumeristic are we? I mean, I saw the Red iPod and wanted one. My current iPod, which I got for free with my computer, works fine. What’s more, if you buy the Red iPod ONLY $10 goes to humanitarian aid. $10! I think it would be much better for people like me just to give $10 directly to a charity, which is what my wife and I did this week.

It appears that we are caught in the pull between generosity to others and consuming for ourselves. Perhaps there are some things we can do to help us bridge the gap between what we are and what we need to be? So here are some ideas to consider as you think about how to use your voice and power over the next few months.

1. Make your holiday season about others. Give to charity. Take your children to work with the poor and homeless. Limit Christmas gifts to one per person and use the money you would normally spend helping to change the world and joining the mission of God in our world.

2. Find a charity or issue that you care about and talk about it with your friends. Dedicate what you have–time, dollars, influence, contacts.

3. During Thanksgiving eat with another family (outside your biological-extended one), share the cost and use the extra cash to support a shelter or ministry feeding the homeless. Or actually go and feed the hungry with your family.

4. If your church has small groups adopt a project or less-fortunate family to help through the holidays. Pray with them, care for their kids and give lots of love.

5. Make Christmas about Jesus. Take your family to as much Jesus related stuff as possible and limit trips to the mall–maybe just go for a Santa Claus visit. Rochelle and I have done this, and for a former Christmas-hater, it has saved Christmas for me.

  • ClayMan

    You? A cynic? Nah! Couldn’t be!

    I agree with you. I’d feel far better giving my money to a cause than buying something ‘cuz some of the money goes to a cause.

    Besides – if I give the money, then it comes off my taxes. If I buy the iPod (which I’d really like, but can’t afford!), then the donation comes off Apple’s taxes.

    But do me a favor. Assume I’ll donate the cash, and cut me a discount on the iPod…

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