One of the benefits to getting your finances under control is the opportunity to give generously. However, your giving is a resource that needs to be managed, too. You can’t just give to every organization with their hand out without checking them out first. Tony Morgan recently published a list of ten things that people will want to know before they will give to your church, but I think you can turn them around to make great guidelines for the giver to use before donating to any charitable organization. How will your giving make a difference? How will the resources you give be used? What is the vision of the organization? How can you get further involved? How transparent is the organization? Don’t give blindly.
Pessimism has always tempted me. Out loud, I’d use the word “realist” but, deep down, I had made Murphy my patron saint. It’s taken a lot of work to change my mindset, and to recognize, by and large, our world and my life just keep getting better, not worse. The biggest part of that has been to shut down that fear-filled, negative voice before it can convince me otherwise. Give yourself a chance to see what’s good around you. There aren’t boogeymen around every corner.
How’s this for an education experiment? The One Laptop Per Child project wanted figure out ways to encourage the children of countries with little or no education infrastructure to start teaching themselves. So, they delivered some boxes of tablets to two villages in Ethiopia, taped shut, with no instructions whatsoever. Within five months, the children had begun to learn English and even circumvented some of the security settings on the tablets. How could we implement something like that here in America? Education has to get beyond memorizing facts and procedures, and move on to inspiring children to constantly be learning.
I drive through one of the most run-down parts of Tucson almost every day. The obvious poverty is staggering. I pray for churches and the Christians who attend them to stand up and show grace and love to those in our city who desperately need it. It’s part of the reason why I donate to MAN Tucson. There’s a delicate balance to maintain there though, because there are a lot of people who, choice by choice, day after day, have decided that living broke is all they have. Showing them too much grace is enabling them. No one should be comfortable with poverty, especially those who have the ability to pull themselves free.
Pixar Studios. Just for The Incredibles alone, I would name them one of the top movie-makers of all time. So, when some of the best story-tellers make a list of their rules for writing stories? You sit up and listen. All of them are great, but I’m especially inspired by numbers 2, 7, 11 and 15. Which ones are your favorites?
Look, I’m all for exploring and developing alternative and cleaner forms of energy. Really, I am. Still, doesn’t this take the whole idea just a touch too far? Would you want to carry that battery around in your pocket? Brings a whole new meaning to the words “Energy Drink.”
If you have children, then the ever-present fear of sexual predators might be a problem for you. We want to protect our children from the pedophile hiding under the bed, or on the street corner, or behind the computer screen. It’s likely, though, that that fear is just a touch exaggerated. For example, a few years ago, a study showed that despite social networks online being populated more and more with kids, most of them still resembled your everyday real world community – “comprised mostly of good people who are there for the right reasons.” Child predators were actually few and far between. Bullying was more of an actual concern. Facts put fears into perspective, which is a good thing, because our fears about our kids are starting to hurt them. Fact: Sex Offender Registries are listing more and more teenage children (and even some pre-pubescent kids) who are haunted for the rest of their lives due to a moment of foolish sexual indiscretion.
Even on our worst days, we’ll probably meet and briefly interact with somebody new. In most cases, they’ll be there for just a few moments, a few words and maybe a smile will be exchanged, and then they’ll be gone and forgotten. That’s normal, but it’s also a shame. Right now, sitting in this restaurant with my headphones on, I can see five people who I don’t know. Two of them I’ve spoken to. One took my order, the other handed me my food. I only know one of their names, because I read the tag on their chest (Vivian). But each one of them has a story to tell about their life, and I’ll probably never hear it, unless I ask. Why don’t I ask? Do you? What’s your story?
There is a concept in economics called Creative Destruction. Broadly speaking, when a something is destroyed, its resources are free to create something new or make something better. Maybe even several things. For example, when Borders went bankrupt a couple years back, their books, furniture, fixtures and equipment were all sold to other people who put them to use. Their employees all temporarily lost their income, but they had the opportunity to seek other, maybe better, employment. It goes deeper than just business, too. Seth Godin says that a revolution destroys the perfect to enable the impossible. Cory Doctorow says that every act of making begins as an act of unmaking. Think about the areas in the world around you that are showing their wear. The institutions and traditions that aren’t quite hacking it anymore. Think about your personal life. The failures and pain that haunt you and you pray would just go away. What could arise from the ashes of these things if we just. let. them. die?