The disparity between those with excess and those with want makes me sad. The saddest part of it, however, is that I’m not sadder. I see it as business as usual or just the way things are. I mean, yes, I have a vague unease about having so much when others have so little… and I know I shouldn’t waste food (it just seems wrong)… and I wonder about the emotional and financial toll of living with clutter and excess (before even considering who could use the overflow)… and I could go on and on about the details or logistics of it.
But the bigger issue is why I don’t care more.
I read an article recently in the Washington Post about how people are more willing to lend aid (monetary or otherwise) to save a few people than to save more people… with the idea being that large numbers of people become simply statistics and abstractions instead of human beings with individual needs, to which we are more drawn.
That article’s premise makes me think that my own apathy has a good deal to do with my isolation from need and from limited or nonexistent opportunities (taken) to explore the disparity between rich and poor up close.
Dallas Willard, in The Spirit of the Disciplines, advocates shopping and doing business in parts of town that are less affluent than our own — not only to get to know others and their realities but also to give them our business. We often take resources from other parts of town without a commensurate giving of our resources into the same communities. I want to address that and change my errand patterns.
We can’t know the needs of others if we don’t know those same others. I want to be open to a broader swath of relationships.