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Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Soapbox: Patch Adams... Poverty and Homelessness

Oh my gosh! We have finally come to the last of Dr. Patch Adams' ten questions for a better society. I took the questions out of order, but this one is also the last in his list. I can't put off tackling this one any longer. I think it is the hardest, but also one that would indeed transform the world.

10. Can you match the cost of everything you buy with a donation to an environmental sustainability project?

Now, as friends would say is typical of me... I want to change it. If it were MY question I would change this to: 

Can you match the cost of everything you buy with a donation to end poverty and homelessness? 

So, long story short, I decided to try this for Lent.  Without mentioning it on the blog [protection against abject failure maybe?] I began on Ash Wednesday. Wow!  I can't decide if it was the most important thing I have ever done, the stupidest thing, the hardest thing, the best thing, or what....

I have discovered that I think VERY carefully about whether I can afford X, Y, or Z when it means taking double the amount out of my budget, half for the X, Y, or Z and half to donate. I also decided to exempt mortgage and utility payments, though in a true sense, those would be most appropriate to match to end homelessness.  After a lot of thought I decided that although it would be really tough, I would try to match my grocery shopping money with an equal donation to a local soup kitchen and food pantry. 

The conversations I have had with my children about this have been meaningful, and yes, sometimes a bit loud and a lot frustrated, and yes sometimes inspiring. I don't know if I/we will be able [or is it willing?] to make it all the way through Lent... April 24th is a lonnnnnngggggg way away. 

I don't routinely buy extras, I am not a clothes horse or shoe collector, and I spent so many many years struggling desperately that I don't spend a lot of money.  But I do know that "just" doing it for the last three weeks has transformed my awareness of what I do spend on "necessities" and how much that amount can do for others. Without question, this has been the toughest for me of all Patch's questions, and the one that probably would change the world the fastest. I believe that if somehow this challenge was met by all of us, poverty could indeed be ended, and we would find ourselves richer than we can imagine. 
        Knowing is so so much harder than doing...    

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