Selling their possessions and goods, they gave… Acts 2:45
Look who’s practicing distribution, or probably a better word, redistribution.
Warren Buffett, Bill Gates, Steve Case, Larry Ellison, T. Boone Pickens, & Walter Scott, Jr. just to name a few.
For a good part of my life I have sought to spark imagination and discussion that there is another (and I argue, better) way to live. Over the past decade I have specifically focused on bringing light to the reality that there truly is enough for all of our needs and suggested practical ways to start living accordingly. Often I wonder what it would take to really live into that reality. There are certainly moments I question if it is even possible, if we are willing, if we are ready.
Like any good work, it is rarely easy. It is certainly a path scattered with discouraging moments. But, when I am honest I realize that this journey of awakening, this journey of discovery, this journey of open-handedness, this journey of seeing ourselves in others and others in ourself, this journey of sacrifice to help our neighbor, is mostly filled with moments of sheer excitement. The ups and downs are intertwined in the mystery of “it’s happening” and “it’s not yet”. We have come far, too far to not keep going on what will be the long and beautiful road ahead.
I recently took some time to read personal pledges of a few individuals who have sought to give over half of their possessions away for charitable purposes. As I read these letters I was reminded of a story from my childhood about a small man who wanted to see Jesus. If you had a similar upbringing to me, the words to the song may already be playing in your head. For those of you who are not familiar with the song, here are the lyrics:
Zacchaeus was a wee little man
And a wee little man was he
He climbed up in a sycamore tree
For the Lord he wanted to see
And as the Savior passed that way
He looked up in that tree
And He said, “Zacchaeus, you come down!
For I’m going to your house today
For I’m going to your house to stay”
The problem with the song was that it leaves out the end of the story. It doesn’t mention that, not only did Zacchaeus have a pretty cool houseguest, but he made a pretty big decision. He pronounced, “here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor.” After his encounter with Jesus, Zacchaeus was moved to see his stuff, his responsibility, maybe even himself differently.
Now back to the letters I mentioned – the ones written by folks who likely did not have an experience like Zacchaeus, but something moved them to make the same decision – to give away half of their stuff. I encourage you to take time to read a few of the letters. They may not all “speak” to you, but I do think that you will find one or two of them to be quite personally engaging. (I’ve attached them here so that you can download them and read them off-line if you choose.)
The Economist and Forbes Magazine have recently devoted space to the topic of “distributing again”. For the 30th anniversary issue of Forbes annual ranking of the richest people, they decided to hold a summit by inviting people who were leveraging their resources to solve the world’s most intractable problems. From a panel discussion entitled “Why Give At All?” Forbes published parts of the summit. I have included 2 links (shorter and longer of the same discussion) for your consideration. (Shorter (19 minutes) or Longer (50 minutes)
The very real temptation is to believe that giving is reserved only for the Gates, Buffetts and Cases of the world; that “I will give when (if) I have a little bit more”. If we fall victim to this lie, we rob ourselves of the opportunity to experience great joy today. The truth is, no matter the size of our gift, sharing is something we all can do. The challenge is to start with what you have and to not wait for tomorrow. If your gift is money, give money. If your gift is time, give time. If your gift is ideas, share them.
And, no matter where we may land on a whole host of issues, at the end of the day we come together to desire “to promote the welfare of others” (philanthropy). This way, we will win.
Whatever it is you share, share with great Love.
This is happening!
What is your $.02?
What letter did you really enjoy reading from the pledge list?
Why and how do you give?
If you are looking for a place to share with others visit CommonChange.com