We have just “celebrated” the tenth anniversary of that tsunami on Boxing Day 2004. The one which took over 250,000 lives, left 1.7 million homeless and devastated many, many, more: http://www.tsunami2004.net/tsunami-2004-facts/
I was reading an article about (part of) the aftermath. About how “relief aid” rushed in like a second tsunami. I remember the appeals on television, newspapers and the radio. Always the appeals after a disaster. Always the depths of another’s grief perfectly and cynically edited to reach our wallets.
I gave money. Millions gave money. We always do.
Yet this article made the point that this second tsunami was as devastating as the first in different ways. So many houses were being rebuilt that the tragic recipients were spoiled for choice. Came to believe it was their right to have the biggest and the best. So much support and equipment was provided to the poor devastated fisherfolk that over-fishing became a real issue. So many more fisherfolk and fishing afterwards than before. All with new and better, more efficient, equipment.
And along the way I keep reading about the “charity tsunamis”. About how the roadshow rolls into town, prices rocket as so many charities rent, hire, buy and spend. Then a new a more sexy tragedy happens elsewhere and the roadshow rolls out as quickly as it rolled in.
So this morning I was pondering John the Baptist:
“The next day he saw Jesus coming towards him and declared, ‘Here is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! This is he of whom I said, “After me comes a man who ranks ahead of me because he was before me.” I myself did not know him; but I came baptizing with water for this reason, that he might be revealed to Israel.’ And John testified, ‘I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it remained on him. I myself did not know him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water said to me, “He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain is the one who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.” And I myself have seen and have testified that this is the Son of God.’ John 1:29-34
John who did not have the “grace tsunami” we have had ever since. John who went before and saw only the dove – and then the axe with his head plated and presented as a trophy. We have so much more than him. We are bathed in so much more than he ever experienced. Yet it cost him. It cost John his life. And he never had as much as we have had ever since.
And then bumped into Walter. And a piece which caused me to ponder anew:
Walter Bright: “I WILL NOT OFFER THE LORD ANYTHING THAT COSTS ME NOTHING” – http://walterbright.org/2015/01/02/i-will-not-offer-the-lord-anything-that-cost-me-nothing/
Because it seems to me that all too often we put our hand in our wallets not for the benefit of the recipients. It seems to me that all too often we give because it soothes our conscience, makes us feel like we are doing our bit, gives us a sense of helping, connects us to the global family …
And costs us nothing.
We can then observe the plight of others without fear of guilt. We have done our bit. It is not our problem any more. We return to living as we know and enjoy it best. We take no further responsibility for the consequences of that giving. We do not seek out how the relief aid is used, what are the consequences, how sincere the support is, how real is the help provided, who it actually helps, nor how “connected” this global family feels on the ground. And it also insulates us from the next (and next) appeal: “I did my bit for ???? – I can’t support every appeal – I have my own family to look out for.”
In the past few days I have been tsunamied with millions of words – New Year Resolutions words – all vying to draw me in to a mindset of “beginning anew”. That January 1st is when we start again. Now is the time we can and will begin all the stuff we have put off so successfully for so long!
Yesterday’s post might allow you an insight into my own thoughts on that – but hey-hoh … let’s make hay while the sun shines and all that … so I have a question for all the “New-Year-New-Start” preachers and teachers:
<><> How much does this “preaching and teaching” match the essence of “giving and connecting”? <><>
* What happens to that collection each Sunday? Where does it go, what does it pay for, how does that sit with you?
* What does supporting the next cosmetically perfect tv appeal actually cost you? When you text, go online, call, donate, pledge some of your money … how much does that donation cost you and why?
* And what does that organisation actually do with your cash? How is it spent, where is it spent, how long does it take to be spent – and is it really what you wanted when you reacted to those big tearful eyes on your widescreen tv?
Because I am curious:
If you were really connected – really connected and invested – how would it change how you give? How would it change what you might give – to whom might you give and why – and what other ways are there “to give” without you ever needing to reach for your wallet?
I am curious to find out if even that small cost of time, focus and thought process might make each one of us more – or less – committed. And whether that might be the difference between a tsunami of easy peasy “wallet aid” – and genuine giving.