Sunday, January 29, 2017

How to Be a Hero: Lesson 2

You've gotta care! Yes, I know you care about people who need. But the thing is, you've got to care enough to actually take action to meet the need. That's not as easy as it would seem.

Think about this: Near where I live there is a park that has a shallow fish pond that is about the size of a small swimming pool. But it is not inviting for swimming as it has muddy bottom strewn with leaves and stuff. And there are a lot of fish there. It is intended for a fishing pond for children, where they can fish without a license if they are under a certain age. 

Nearby is the playground and the playground equipment - swings, sandbox, etc. And there are benches there for the grownups to watch the children play. The fish pond is also surrounded by benches here and there where grownups often stop to chat or read in the green space of the park.

Imagine this day you are walking in the park, taking a shortcut to your destination. You have on new walking shoes and a new sweat suit and are rather in a hurry because you are running late. So the shortcut through that end of the park will save you time. All the kids and grownups are at the playground and there don't seem to be any folks by the pond - except a toddler fascinated by the fish. 

As you hurry across to the edge of the park you hear a splash and turn to see the toddler in the pond and unable to get any footing on the muddy bottom. The child is under the water and no one is around but you. 

The question is, would you go into the pond to save the child? You are thinking as you read this,"of course I would." But your new shoes and sweat pants will be ruined. "No matter", you are thinking. I'd get the child out of there." 

At that moment you care more about the child than you do about your new clothes/shoes. After all, the clothes and shoes are replaceable. You didn't even hesitate to act in this case. You cared.

Now, think of this: More than eighteen thousand children die of hunger everyday. That is 18,000 children! Would it be worth the cost of your shoes and sweat pants to save a few of them? Why is your response to them different from your response to the child in the pond?

I know you are a caring person who probably supports some charitable efforts. Americans are, you know. According to the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University, in 2008, found that between 1995 - 2002 the American people gave 2.2 percent of the gross national income to charity. This is more than any other country. The USA is also the richest country, so most of us could afford to do even more. So why don't we? 

Perhaps it is because we don't (or won't) see the needs with our own eyes. Maybe because we perceive so many of our wants as needs and tell ourselves we can't afford to give more. Maybe because we are busy people and think we don't have time to do anything. Maybe because we just have so many things to think about that we don't often think about helping others. Maybe you can tell me why more people don't give more. I'm really curious, so if you have ideas please share them with me.

Of course, hunger isn't the only need in the world. But extreme poverty in a world with so many resources there is no real excuse for anyone in the world to subsist in extreme poverty. We can find solutions if we work together. In Lesson Three we will explore actions that can make you and all of us heroes.

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