In those times of terrible and appalling suffering, we come together and find within ourselves the ability to dig deep in our giving, 2004 Tsunami, Live Aid, Earthquake in Haiti and many more times we have shown our generosity.
And we are generous in giving at this time of year: shoebox appeals, Simon appeals and more. The Irish are a generous nation. We are all good when a season like Christmas is upon us or when we hear of that devastating event that brings so much tragedy to so many people. Yes, we may be good at the one of appeal, but it is hard to find any hard evidence of a movement of compassion arising in the Western world. Money has always been donated in response to such tragedies, but we soon go back to living without allowing the scale of these events to change our spending habits or priorities.
It is as if we need to have a short response to a global issue so we can say to ourselves, “ I did my bit” or “I gave my box”, rather than being inspired to join or start a long term movement that brings lasting change. As one who travels, (well not so much these days, thank you Covid19), I long to see this long-term movement in the nations that need our help.
We should not just be stating our feelings about poverty, suffering etc. We should be working tirelessly to build the Kingdom of Heaven of grace, peace, kindness in all our communities across the globe. We should remind ourselves that poverty is man-made and can be wiped out if only we change not only our thinking but our actions in how we respond.
Don’t get me wrong, donations to one-off causes are great and help in the short term; what would be better is a lifelong devotion to compassionate living. As Nelson Mandela said, “if the worlds wealthiest nations just spent 1% of their income on the effects of global poverty, it could be greatly diminished.”
Our mission statement is this Empower | Transform, and this is how we approach the communities we work in.
If we can empower those on the ground to become stronger and more confident in controlling their life and claiming their rights, standing up and speaking out against injustice, then they will not only transform their own lives but the lives of those around them and the communities they live in.
There is a road ahead that needs to be walked, the long road of justice and compassion. Yes, it will be hard, compassionate living is not easy, but if we want to make a difference, we got to give it a try.
For I was hungry, and you gave me food, I was thirsty, and you gave me drink, I was a stranger, and you welcomed me, I was naked, and you clothed me, I was sick, and you visited me, Matthew 25.