Earlier today I was sitting here having (let's call it) "a moment" as I was reading a letter we just got from Ailess. She's the girl that we sponsor on the other side of the world in Zambia. Writing that her favorite subjects are "English and Zambian Language," she is starting to sound very grown up for a 12 year old. She has food to eat, her health is in order and she is getting an education. That's rare in that part of Africa. We couldn't be happier.
Then, in the middle of my moment, I got a call from (let's call this person) Debbie Downer. Debbie started right in with "One of those Occupy Wall Street people just pushed a policeman to the ground here in XXX. You guys aren't part of that kind of stuff, are you?"
Thanks for calling, Debbie and glad you know us so well. Yes, we're into violence and absurd behavior. Not.
Of course, Debbie was calling because she knew we had spent time hanging with the Seattle version of OWS. As we pointed out in that post, people like Debbie can make it easy to opt out of everything. We know this all too well. Before our NVR lifestyle kicked in, it was a lot easier for us to hear the local / world news and think "Someone else will fight that fight." "Why should we help a corrupt foreign country." "How could we possibly help?"
We quit opting out and started standing for something.
We believe that we live under a system that, clearly, isn't working for a majority of people. Here in the United States, we have a record number of citizens in poverty and a record number of millionaires. Those are regressive, not progressive, statistics. That's why we like the foundation of the OWS movement. It prompts people to question the current economic climate.
Does it mean we're going to throw a pie at the manager of our neighborhood Chase bank? No.
Does it mean we're going to go apeshit and start fighting cops? No.
Does it mean We believe in everything the OWS movement stands for? No.
We often find inspiration in larger movements (like OWS) and then determine how we can best plug into the core message and advocate for what we believe in.
For instance, a couple of week ago we wrote about the growing world population (we're going to hit 9 billion people) and what that means in terms of food security. We were inspired by Oxfam's Grow campaign to examine our own relationship with food. In the process, we realized how fortunate we are to have relatively low food prices at our home base in the United States. Among other things, we committed to maximizing the amount of food we get for our money. We clipped coupons, looked for great deals, made a list and headed for the store.
The result… We got all of this food, valued at just under $60, for about $17. We're donating the gap – and future gaps – to good causes. It's simple; it's a start.
In another arena – jobs – we recently learned that Starbucks and the Opportunity Finance Network have teamed up for a really cool initiative. It's called Create Jobs for USA.
It's easy, you donate $5 and get this swanky wrist band that shows your support. We got our bands and are spreading the word. Best of all, all funds raised go directly to community development financial institutions that have a track record of creating jobs. Here's to more jobs!
So, we say just do something that supports what you believe in. Don't look for perfection and – no matter what – don't let Debbie (or the news) make you feel helpless.
Change starts with you. Now!
You know we've been at this lifestyle for 5 years! We've got some celebrating to do. In honor of that… The first five people inspired to do something (AND with mailing addresses in the United States) who e-mail us will get a small somethin' somethin'. In your e-mail, let us know if you are more interested in the food campaign or the jobs campaign.