What could you possibly do with that much money? What is the point of that much wealth? Those Billionaires will have some questions to answer about what they have done with what they have been given.
Not everyone will agree with you.
I understand that. I experience that from time to time. Recently I have had a handful of conversations about the legitimacy of the pandemic, the vaccines, the governments response and the government itself. Normally I take it in my stride, recognise that nothing I am going to say to that person will change their mind and nothing they will say to me will get me closer to agreeing with them. So I hear them out, say thanks for sharing and finish the conversation.
A few weeks back I was talking with someone about donating money and their response was, if they donated, “I don’t want it to go to that Covid crap. I want it to help people not kill them.”
This comment stung and it made me so angry.
That covid crap which has killed millions worldwide.
Which has crippled economies and health care systems.
Which devastated India this year.
Which is currently ravaging through Indonesia.
Which has kept millions of families apart.
That covid crap?
We may have different opinions on this. Not everyone has had the same experience of it. But Opportunity International Australia has lost staff members in the field, family members of staff, and clients to this pandemic. Calling it covid crap is pretty rich as you sit in your ivory tower of Australia.
Somehow I managed to keep calm, thank them for their time and respond out of generosity. But some days this is harder than others.
Most borders are arbitrary. They seem to do nothing. I have driven over them, walked through them and stood on them and you really can’t tell the difference between one State or another, or even one country or another. They are a man-made creation, making up a distinction between people from one place versus people from another, as if coming from somewhere hundreds of kilometres away increases or decreases the value of a person. If you have ever travelled into space and looked back at Planet Earth (I’m looking at you Billionaires), you won’t see any borders marked out on the land.
Islands are a little different though. They have a distinct start and finish, and we can tell easily what belongs to that Island and what doesn’t, but even then, to which country an island belongs is haphazard.
You may not know but Australia is made up of 8,222 islands.
Indonesia is also a country of thousands of islands, more than 17,500 of them.
The reason that Indonesian islands are not part of Australian is historical and chance. If one part of history had gone differently then Indonesia and Australia could have been the same country. But, that’s not how things are and there are strong borders in place. It does not mean the citizens of Indonesia have less value is citizens of Australia. We should care about Indonesia and Indonesians and here is why:
- They are our close neighbours. Indonesia is closer to Perth than Sydney is.
- They are an economic powerhouse and that will be good for the Australian economy.
- It’s the right thing to do. We are all people. We you are born shouldn’t dictate how or if you live.
The people of Indonesia are going through the most challenging time with COVID-19 right now and it will only get worse. We must find a way to help them. We must do something to help our neighbours.
You can help by donating now at www.opportunity.org.au
If you think about, we do some weird things for money.
We put ourselves through years of gruelling study, after choosing a course, a university, specific subjects, work part time at the same time as writing assignments, actually writing assignments the night before they are due, find a job and then work in that job to make money.
Then we realise we don’t like that job and find another job that makes more money.
Then work more hours than necessary to progress our way up in the organisation to another job, that pays even more money with even longer hours.
This is a career. It could lead us to spend our entire working life climbing our way up the ladder only to discover that the ladder was leaning against the wrong wall.
But what if there is another way?
What if, instead of a career, we searched for a vocation, which is almost a calling, something that you can find significant fulfillment in. You can still climb the ladder, but it is leaning up against a more meaningful wall.
To tell the difference between a career and a vocation comes down to our motivation. If money is the main thing that you are aiming for then you could be happy with a career, but if a sense of purpose in your work is important then a vocation may be what you are after.
The real test to see if you are working in a career or a vocation is this…
If you didn’t need the salary anymore, would you still work in that job?
If so, then it is probably a vocation.
Sometimes the cost of a vocation is a lower wage, but if you are willing to sacrifice that then it is all worth it.
In all of this, I find myself wondering about how this philosophy works in developing countries. For someone living on less than $2.50 a day, is this even something that they have the opportunity to think about?
It is good to hope. We know that. Hope is much better than no hope. But how do we find hope?
I have experienced some dark days and in the depths of them I found it almost impossible to see how things could ever get better. I struggled to find hope. However, over time I noticed that the following day would be slightly better and then the day after that would be better again. Eventually I would find my way back to being hopeful – I never go stuck in despair. So I know that if I can make it through today, tomorrow will inevitably be better.
But what changes? How do we get to a place of hope if we currently have no hope?
BJ Fogg, author of Tiny Habits, suggests that it’s gratitude that gives us hope. Simple.
Gratitude points us to the good things in our life, that have already happened or are happening now.
Gratitude is for the past.
Hope is for the future.
Because there have been good things before, I believe that good things will happen in the future and so I hope.
That makes gratitude the greatest tool in our kit. If we can put it to good use it will focus our thoughts on what we have been blessed with which has the power to bring a positive outlook for tomorrow.
Don’t wait for the dark days to come before you start using gratitude though. It’s much harder to think of those things then. Make note of things regularly that you are grateful for now, this makes it easier during the times when you are without hope, because then you can read what you have written previously.
If you are unable to find anything to be grateful for right now, think about how many times you have inhaled and exhaled whilst reading this. That is a great place to start…you are still breathing.
I feel bad now. At the time I was annoyed and I spoke quite harshly to him. But he wasn’t doing what I thought he was doing and he was actually being a bit of a hero.
I can understand my response. It was two in the morning and he had woken me up with his barking. Strike 1.
I could immediately tell that he wasn’t where he should have been. Strike 2.
Plus he didn’t seem to be keen to go back to bed. Strike 3.
I had to physically pick him up and put him back in his pen, making sure he couldn’t get out again.
That was all well and good until a little while later exactly the same thing happened. What is the deal with this dog?
I was not happy and I told him that. In the morning things were a bit icy between us still.
I found out later that our neighbours had four people try to break into their home in the early hours of the morning. Now I think I know what the dog was up to.
I’m not annoyed at him anymore. I’m proud of him.
I’m annoyed at myself for not checking out my surroundings when I was putting him back to bed.
I’m annoyed that I didn’t give the dog the benefit of the doubt. I read the situation very wrong and it has completely changed my perspective of the event. Sorry Jake.
It was a solid reminder to check my perspective of all events that happen, in case there is another explanation for what I am seeing.
There’s the story of a guy who starting giving money to a religious organisation that promised him his life would be ‘blessed with wealth and riches’ if he just kept giving. So he did. Until he ran out of money. No wealth and riches came his way. Just hunger and poverty.
What do we do when our desire to help puts us in harms way?
What happens if acting generously is causing others harm?
How do we live a generous life without slipping into unhealthy generous acts, saying yes to everything and damaging our lives in the process. Simply put, when is it okay to not be generous?
In the Buddhist practice, there is the concept of Idiot Generosity. Here some examples of Idiot Generosity
- When people do things with the sole purpose of creating pleasure for themselves by helping others
- Giving someone something they want because you can’t bear to see them suffer (another name for this is enabling)
- Showing compassion to someone whilst they are causing significant hurt to others (think perpetrators of sexual abuse being overlooked)
- Giving of items or services which create more heartache (think donated clothes for developing countries that are not suitable, ruin the local market economy and become landfill)
- An inability to say no (saying yes to everything removing your ability to live up to the commitments you have already made)
The opposite of this is Wise Generosity which takes into account the context of the situation, other people and long term effects, in order to give wisely. It puts up generous boundaries which helps keep you safe but also empowers others, providing a platform for them to help themselves. This takes longer to figure out and is innately more thoughtful, but worth the extra effort.
Don’t practice Idiot Generosity. Don’t be generous in a way which causes damage to you and those around you.
Practice Wise Generosity. Be generous on purpose. It will be harder to do but it will cause less damage.
I have had some irate phone calls in my time. People who have called me just to tell me how upset they were to receive something in the post, or an email that I sent. I wonder what moves people to do that. What upsets them so much about being asked to donate money to a cause that they simply must call and give a piece of their mind. Often, I wasn’t the one who sent the offending piece of mail or email. But they are offended, and I am the person they know.
That’s okay. I understand that. Especially if someone receives many requests to give money. But I don’t think that’s the reason for everyone who calls. Some people’s reaction is disproportionate to the size of the offence. Their outrage over a letter asking them to support something amazing appears to be never ending. It must be something else.
Here’s what I think it is – they are offended by passion. Have you ever been around someone who is just so excited, so motivated, so passionate about what they are doing that they can’t seem to stop talking about it? The thing makes up much of their lives. It is the thing they are known for. Man, they are annoying. But only if you don’t share the same passion. If you love what they love then you can become best friends, but if you are not on board with their thing then their passion starts to wear thin pretty quickly.
Passion is offensive to those who don’t have it.
Because It reminds them that they don’t have it.
As you grow your passion about whatever you care about, know that some will be offended by it. Not because you are doing something evil, but because they are not willing to take the risk of caring deeply.
It was one of dozens of similar conversations. But something finally broke with this one.
I sat down across the table from a financial planner, and they began to tell me how many millions of dollars their firm managed and all of a sudden I realised, I didn’t care. I didn’t. I had no interested in their millions of dollars and how much money they were making for their clients. In that moment I discovered that I wasn’t motivated by that at all, which was a bit of a shame because I was working for a bank at the time and my job was to encourage financial planners to put their clients’ money into the banks products. I knew I was in trouble.
It was that moment I began to search for my purpose, something that I could get excited about, something that motivated me. It led me through a journey of community radio, Bible College, youth work, international development work and a master’s degree. I always say that my life has been a weird concoction of career snippets that have somehow managed to feed into each other and create the place where I want to be. Ending poverty, one family and one community at a time. Facilitating generosity to bring about significant change. I’m so glad I had that realisation many years ago and walked away from the banking world.
Not that there’s anything wrong with making millions of dollars for your clients, just as long as you give lots of it away and do something significant with it.
There are many lessons to be taken from nature. Like planting a seed, for example. It gets shoved in the ground where it is dark, moist and enclosed. Not normally a place that I would choose to hang around in. But it just so happens that this specific environment is the exact one it needs to break out of its seedy shell and begin to grow. From there, it is still in a dark, moist and enclosed area so it must keep struggling and growing in its infancy and head towards the light, finally breaking through the surface of the soil to begin its new life as a plant, which (depending on the type of plant I guess) looks extraordinary.
We can find ourselves in many a dark, moist (?) and enclosed place as we journey through life, and it is those specific environments that provide us exactly what we need to break out, grow and become extraordinary.
Generosity grows. When the need is great, when things seem dark and enclosed, when the local, communal and global problems seem overwhelming, generosity breaks through and becomes an extraordinary plant which gives life to the world.
I no longer feel afraid for our world, because I know that as the need grows, the generosity of people will grow to meet and exceed that need.
How’s your relationship with your mum?
This is a question fraught with danger.
You might have a great relationship with your mum. You might have an okay relationship. You might have a rocky relationship. You might have none.
You might have had a step-mum instead of, or as well as.
Maybe you’ve lost your mum. Maybe you never knew her.
Or, you might be a mum and love it. You might be a mum and like it. You might be a mum and tolerate it. You might be a mum and hate it…some days.
You might be a step-mum and trying to figure this whole thing out.
You might be expecting and about to become a mum.
Maybe you’ve never been able to become a mum.
Maybe you’ve lost a child.
It’s heavy. Mother’s Day, am I right? It’s a challenge to full encapsulate all if this into one day.
This we know for sure; we wouldn’t be here without mothers. Everyone has one. Everyone needs one. They carry such a burden for their children.
Imagine, as a mother, not being able to feed your kids. Not having some shelter for them.
Having to tell them they need to leave school and work because you don’t have enough money to pay for their education.
But then someone gave you a loan. A small one. Just enough to grow a small business, maybe a small vegetable farm or a tailoring business.
The regular income you earn means you can feed your children consistent, nutritious meals, give them a warm bed with a roof over their heads and a proper education.
You even employ other mothers from your community, giving them an income too.
This is more than receiving money from some unknown person so that you can feed your children, which is disempowering.
It is an opportunity that allows you to take care of your own family. One that you can pay back so that someone else can receive the exact same opportunity. That’s empowerment.
An empowered mother takes care of her family. She makes sure that everyone has enough. She raises kids that are educated and have dreams of what they can achieve in their life. She raises kids that love their family, respect their culture, and give back to their community. She raises the next generation of world leaders.
Empowered mothers are our ticket out of this mess. (‘Mess’ being the issue of global poverty, but also pretty much every other issue we have as a world).
And it all starts with a donation.
Just $100 is enough to provide one small loan to a mother in need in Indonesia or India.
Empowered mothers create a better world.