I was hooked as soon as I heard of Preemptive Love. I read a story of a man who, having watched his friends be executed, volunteered in the prison of the executioners so that he could feed them soup. He made the choice to love them anyway – not with words (which can often be empty) but with action and kindness and humility.
Last night, I sat reading stories of Mosul and Syria, learning where what little we have to give to Preemptive Love is going and what it’s doing. I read stories of communities being rebuilt due to small business grants, communities coming together and strengthening over learning crafts, and men able to support their families as soap makers. I felt such gratitude for these people on the frontlines, gratitude for my own life circumstances, and conviction to do more.
Later that night, in Rebecca Lyon’s newest book, I read these words: “We can’t help it. Once we’ve got something to offer, we’re ready to give it away.” From my place of unhealthiness two years ago, I wouldn’t have dreamed that could be true. The more I move to nurturing myself and my home to be a space of peace, a space where God dwells, I see that indeed it is.
I started writing these words over Thanksgiving of 2019. Much has changed since then. Namely, a worldwide pandemic and international health crisis. There’s so much going on here, it’s almost difficult to wrap your head around. However, a few, very specific thoughts cross my mind in relation to what I was pondering six months ago.
First, is that of the environment. One unexpected “positive” to this crisis has been the bouncing back of nature. Canals are running clearer. Smog over cities such as Delhi has lifted. People living within the eyesight of some of nature’s most beautiful landmarks are able to see them for the first time, undeterred by the air pollution that has rendered them invisible to so many for so long. Our actions have direct, visible consequences. In this moment, that is abundantly clear.
Second, is the disparity between the rich and poor. As this disease spreads, it is to the poorer and less privileged that it will do irreparable damage, both in our known “third-world” countries and in pockets of America. We see more drastic effects among the African American, and other non-white communities, and those living in nursing homes are at particular risk. Countries across Africa lack the resources to properly intervene with high-quality care, to the detriment of many lives. At the beginning of the lockdown, much was made of how the wealthy could live out this time safely in private bunkers or aboard yachts. Though we are all equal, we are not all equally privileged. In this moment, that is abundantly clear.
Preemptive Love is still on the frontlines and I still believe that what we do with our dollars matters. That was going to be the topic of this post, so many months ago. And it still stands now.
Money is a means of survival. Right now, so many of us are realizing that, as jobs are lost and fear sets in. The great debate of 2020 is that of health versus the economy. How do we protect our health without giving into financial ruin? What does it matter if we are protected from COVID-19 if we are dying of starvation? Some of us are blessed with more money than others – even those of us who are, by no standards, wealthy. And for those of us privileged enough to debate the use of our money beyond the basic, rudimentary needs of humanity, I truly believe it is our responsibility to do with good our dollars. What’s more, I don’t necessarily believe that has to equal choosing to live life in poverty and giving every penny to the poor (though that is certainly the calling of some and a noble one).
It can be as simple as being thoughtful and intentional when making purchases. Could you buy that basket from an artisan instead of a big box store? Could you support your local farmer’s market? Could you buy your gift from the local nursery instead of Lowes? Could you choose fair trade or organic clothing instead of fast fashion?
It can be as simple as choosing charities to support carefully, based on research. One of the amazing things about many charities is how they are able to do a lot with a little. We often shy away from giving because we feel we don’t have enough to give. I don’t think there is any such thing! Do a little research on reputable organizations in areas that burden your heart and give what you can. I support several organizations with at little as $5.00 monthly. A little thing can grow into a big thing, given the right care.
It can be as simple as being content with what you have. The great environmental impacts we are witnessing have more to do with what we are not doing at the moment than what we are. Because of how the world has slowed down, nature seems able to rebound. We all need things, to be sure, and there is much to enjoy in life that isn’t a necessity. But our current levels of consumerism really cannot be sustained. If there’s one thing I have noticed about being home, it’s how little I’ve missed many of my past consumerist habits – those habits I would fall into due to boredom or restlessness. Instead, they have been replaced by finding the shady spot in the backyard to settle in with a notebook or enjoying the breeze that I can feel through an open window in the living room while I sip tea. Less can be more. A cliche, yet true.