Think about the last time you were forced to give away something, something you wanted to keep. Perhaps it was “court-ordered,” considered mandatory, or just a social obligation. It was probably time, money, or comfort you gave, but it could have been anything you cared about (even a little).
Now think about how you became emotionally connected to that situation.
The circumstances may have been unjust, unethical, or simply uncomfortable, but my guess is that you had a strong feeling and possibly even responded with legal action, a strongly worded letter, or one of your most articulate rants.
At that point you became part of the issue, the story, or the solution. You empathized or commiserated with those on your side of the argument, so at a minimum, you bonded with another human. That’s healthy.
Giving something of value connects you to…. something.
Here’s the thing: the world is lousy with injustices, disasters, and otherwise unlivable circumstances for people who you may or may not know personally. Even worse than my trip to the Chicago impound lot last week, that surcharge on your concert ticket, and the two minutes you’ll never get back after letting that woman with three small children skip ahead of you in line at the grocery store. Like, life-and-death worse.
Fortunately, a lot of people have worked hard to build a bridge between you and I and those injustices. Organizations and individuals have decided to make their lives about the lives of others, and that’s really beautiful and sort of mind-blowing. It probably wasn’t even mandatory.
So now you and I have a choice to make about whether we use our time and money on ourselves to preserve stories like “The Perfect Order of My Things” or “How to Stop Receiving Mail from the Hungry People.”
Or we can choose to intentionally engage in the story of humanity winning.
You can have all the money, all the things, and all the discretionary time, but someone will always force you to do something unpleasant, something undesirable, to sacrifice yourself for a less-than-worthy cause. It's inescapable in this life.
But what if we shifted our posture to one of sharing for the common good, sacrificing to improve the circumstances of others, becoming part of the stories that make life better for all of humanity? What would it look like to show that I realize my stuff was never really mine to begin with, and I'm ok with that?
What if the opposite of “mine” is “ours,” and that’s really the point of us being here at all?
I have a lot of friends who have worked hard so we can all take baby steps in this direction – at Workshop we have members who work with wonderful organizations like Seer Outfitters, Kyle Korver Foundation, and World Vision. Some of my friends started an organization called Venture Expeditions, which leads people into all sorts of amazing adventures for good.
One of those adventures is a program called Hope for Dinner, which encourages people like you and me to choose to eat just rice and beans for dinner for a period of time and donate whatever money we would have otherwise spent on dinner to Venture’s refugee feeding program. $1 = 10 meals for refugees, which is truly amazing and a testament to the hard work and care many great people have shared to make this possible.
There are plenty of simple ways to share something of yours with the world. I’m trying to pry my fingers off the things I think make me something. It’s harder than I’d like to believe, but opening up to a posture of sharing stuff, sharing time, sharing meals, and simply sharing myself just feels right. And the practical results speak for themselves.
My identity is our identity, and the sooner each of us figures that out, the better for us all.