Painting Dark Clouds in a Sunny Sky

It’s possible to paint a dark cloud on a sunny day canvas. For example, some are saying that agencies serving tsunami victims have more money than they can manage. My response is, “Yea, right. And we’re going to end poverty in southern Asia next week.”

It’s really not that simple. Ten days of
charitable giving won’t put an end to poverty that has dragged people down for
generations. The needs in this region will continue for years. This response
will move from meeting immediate crisis needs to rehabilitation to long-term
development. The price tag for that isn’t even determined yet. But we should
not be lulled into thinking that this first surge of generosity has provided all
the resources necessary to end years and years of endemic
poverty.

I hear the concern that
attention to this crisis will deflect giving to other equally deserving
programs. My response is that if this massive outpouring of goodwill proves
anything, it proves that we need to live with a theology of abundance, not one
of scarcity.

If this massive
outpouring of
goodwill
proves anything,
it proves that we
need to live
with a theology of
abundance,
not one of scarcity.

I am concerned about other genuine needs. But the best response is to become more aggressive in finding compelling stories and sending carefully developed, clear, simple messages. Captivated by compelling human need, the people of the world have given an enormous amount of money to help people they don’t even know in lands most couldn’t point out on a map. We should celebrate that, not wring our hands about it. And we certainly shouldn’t discourage giving.

And while I’m on this rant, it seems to me that the tsunami response is quite remarkable for reasons other than monetary. In a world divided by religious strife, open warfare and terrorist threats, the people of the United States and the world looked beyond politics, division and fear and saw human beings in need and responded. This is a unifying event built on compassion.

I’ve spent most of my adult life trying to encourage global citizenship. On this tiny planet we need each other. We need leaders who have the vision to see that we are inextricably bound to each other and so we have to learn to live together. When Secretary of State Colin Powell speaks of the need for long-term development to encourage stability in poor lands, and then says this is related to the security of the United States, I take that as a sign of hope. It’s in our self-interest that others have enough to eat and sufficient income to survive.

So, to those who want to paint dark clouds on this canvas, I’m sorry, I’m just not buying that picture.


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