When 172 million gallons of oil spilled into the Gulf of Mexico in 2010, one of the environmental experts put this out. Greenpeace was appalled, but the principle stands.
The reverse is true too. And it can help us understand “the more you have, the less you care.”
When people struggle to stay alive, not much else matters. They’re focused, resourceful and yes, generous. People have great empathy for others facing the same circumstances and they’ll do just about anything to help. But as we climb out of poverty and move beyond survival, we start to think more about ourselves. And that’s the beginning of selfishness.
So why is it true that “the more you have, the less you care” ?
1. Dilution – We can only focus on a few things at a time. As we start to accumulate “stuff”, it takes our attention, energy, and money. We have wives, kids, pets, houses, cars, toys, hobbies and friends. There’s so little bandwidth left, we can hardly remember to pray for the poor, much less do anything to help.
2. Distance – “Orphan” is just a word until you hold one. We see images and use our imaginations, but unless we go to developing countries and experience things personally, we are rarely convicted to act beyond stroking a check. Since most of the poverty and pain in the world is somewhere else, “Out of sight, out of mind” holds true.
3. Deception – We are deceived into thinking we can’t make a difference. We’re deceived into thinking someone else will do it. And we’re deceived into thinking it is Divine Providence. ‘The poor will always be with you’, right? So we’re off the hook?
Here’s a sobering thought.
All the resources needed to feed, clothe, shelter and heal the world’s population are in the world right now.
On a “macro” level, we can believe that, but what can we do about it?
We can do something on a “micro” level. We can pick a child, pick a ministry, pick a country. We can connect, consider, and then commit.
Our family is considering committing to a church orphan home in Indonesia through Warm Blankets Orphan Care. (www.warmblankets.org). It’s an awesome opportunity to make a long-term difference in the lives of 5 widows and the 25 orphans they’re raising. But it’s also an opportunity for us, our kids and our grandkids to put a ‘stake in the ground’ and say “we’re in”; ”we’re going to do for a few what we wish we could do for a bunch.” And if we do this, we’re not going to just write a check and move on; we’re going to get connected and stay committed for the long term.
I read that you can’t change culture, you can only create more of it. We can’t change our culture back to that of the first century church. But maybe we can re-create a little bit of it.
Question: What will you do? If you’d like to comment, you can do so here.