Blog Action Day 2008: Plenty
There are a lot of posts about Blog Action Day today. I participated last year, when the topic was “The Environment“, but I almost didn’t want to this year. I really enjoy being a part of projects like this; and I’m always interested to read the views of other bloggers.
What got to me this time around was the topic title, “Poverty“. Immediately, it puts into peoples’ consciousness that, not only does “poverty” exist; it’s a widespread “problem” which needs “intervention”. I honor those who wish to help others in the world, and in their own communities. You will find many blogs today which have views on how to do this, and many will make good and inspiring reading.
I just feel to approach the issue from a different perspective. Here is one way of looking at a particular resource:
The world is being transformed because the cost and speed of creating, manipulating, and communicating knowledge (and other forms of wealth) have fallen to tiny fractions of previous levels. What resources facilitate this revolution? Silicon, for computer chips, and glass, for fiber optic cables. Both are made from silica, which, after oxygen, is the most common element on earth. It is sand! Thus, human beings took a common, abundant material, applied their ingenuity (in the form of, for example, quantum mechanics), and created unprecedented wealth. —Sheldon Richman
So, one way of looking at resources is that some are abundant, not scarce. I know there is much more to say than this; much more to the story of who benefits from which technology. But, as I said before, there are other blogs to read about those things.
My wish, for today, is that each of us can do a little bit, whether it’s deciding to have a new thought, or whether it’s giving something unexpectedly to someone, to make us feel more abundant ourselves. Feelings turn into thoughts, which turn into realities. It’s difficult to see headlines such as “Worldwide Economic Crisis” and not react with some fear, and this in turn may make us feel a bit helpless when thinking of aiding others. On an Action Day such as this, though, it seems helpful to me to step back, assess all the wonderful things I have in my life, and allow the feeling of “plenty” to permeate my thinking. Fear and panic won’t help. As one of my teachers says “You can’t become poor enough, or lonely enough, or any other conscious state you can muster to completely empathize with someone who is poorer or lonelier than you.” Someone else said “One way I can help the poor is to not become one of them.” This may sound callous to some, but I feel we are much better able to serve from a position of strength.
A Zen Story: A man walks by a beggar on the street, who displays a sign saying “Please Help. Haven’t Eaten in Three Days”. After contributing some coins to the man’s upturned hat, he contemplates this as he walks into a meditation center. “How long have you been fasting so far?” he’s asked by a friend. “Three days, and I’m just starting to feel really good.”
I think it is sometimes a blessing to deliberately engage in consuming less. It can be remarkably freeing and uplifting, and, leave more resources for others. The difference between me, and the beggar, is that I’m fortunate enough to perceive my own choice in this.
I’m reminded of a song, from the controversial musical Porgy and Bess. It’s called I Got Plenty o’ Nuttin’, and it’s sung here by Sammy Davis, Jr. It illustrates, clearly, that perspective changes everything.
Lyrics are here, if you’d like them.
I wish you a day of Plenty.
This post is part of Blog Action Day 08