Sunday, August 14, 2011

Irresponsible Giving

In any question of giving there is one fact that does not change regardless of the situation. Good or bad, trust or mistrust, the giver does not know what will happen with the gift. Yes, a person could have bought food a hundred times with a donation, but this time, they could use it to go buy drugs...or the opposite. Even if you give food or clothing, it can be sold for other uses or given to help someone else in even greater need. You simply never know.

What we do know though, is what our stance says about us. In this situation of uncertainty, what you actually have is a choice between two risks.

1) You risk depriving someone in need.
2) You risk enabling someone's destructive behavior.

The big question is, why are you willing to choose one over the other? I personally believe that, especially in situations where you cannot be sure you're enabling someone, risking depriving someone is the greater of the two evils.

I've gotten into this discussion with a lot of Christians, and I know it's a common source of conflict. I ran into a new version in the post of a fellow jiujitsuka asking for donations to UNICEF for the crises in eastern Africa. If you'll take a look, one of the first comments is, in a nutshell, "Their government is the problem. We need to solve that problem first."

I agree that social institutions are frequently the problem. (I also believe that the either/or fallacy is a complete cop-out). Amartya Sen  has produced some compelling essays on the the concept of famine. One of the recurrent themes is that famine is not an issue of supply, but instead, access to supplies. While I do believe it is imperative that we not ignore the big picture, lets be honest--most of us have very little chance of influencing foreign governments...and honestly, God calls us to do what he's enabled us, which in 99% of cases, means doing small things to make a difference in people's immediate, short-term lives.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Batman, Bacteria and unBelievers

So the recent threat of a MRSA infection in my face, and subsequent trip to the ER, and even more subsequent isolation from the general population have given me a lot of time to:

1) Think about my faith, which...judging by my first night of freaking out, and subsequent relief at the reassurance of doctors/ weaker than I'd care to admit.

2) Watch WAY more TV than normal

The recent financial issues of the world have produced all kinds of reactions in people and the people that lead those people and the people that follow those people...reactions that are very telling regarding the amount of weight people put on life on this earth.

I see it this way. kinda like college. The afterlife is like the "real world" (a term I loathe) and there are four groups of people.

  • Those that study because they enjoy studying
  • Those that study because they feel it will prepare them for life after college (I'm thinking this is where Christians are supposed to generally fall...Matthew 6:20 and whatnot.)
  • Those that party because they enjoy partying, and figure everything will just turn out ok
  • Those that party because they feel that college is their last shot at an enjoyable life, and they've got to get their jollies in while they can.

When I first thought about this, atheists and agnostics immediately ran through my mind as falling under the party category--then I realized a non-belief in God or a questioning wouldn't necessarily preclude a person from belief in a life beyond the one we know now and that it's quite possible to see many tenets of Christian behavior lived out in non-Christian lives. Of course, the transverse is also true...there are party elements in the behavior of many Christians too. As much as we condemn people for partying, drinking, gambling, sex, drugs, and whatever else is that really that much different than expending efforts to leave a legacy to grandchildren or establish a career reputation? Aren't they both just stocking up experiences/items for enjoyment in this world?

least horrifying picture of the newest Joker I could find

I think it's part of the INTJ package, but I frequently wonder why people do things...not just why they buy Honda over Toyota or sit in the front of the room as opposed to the back. I mean the large scale stuff. The stuff we invest their real time and energy into. (Working in a business environment, I find myself wondering more and more every minute of every day.) I'm at the point where I think that's about the only question that matters. Democrat? Republican? I don't care. I want to know what kind of America you envision. Livid about Casey Anthony going free? Not concerned. I want to know how you feel about child welfare in general.

That's the real difference between people, and I believe there are fewer people out there that do things "just because" than we would like to admit. I simply don't believe that most people are just dogs chasing cars. Most of us have an end game in mind, whether we admit it or not.