“I believe that, as long as there is plenty, poverty is evil.”
Robert Kennedy[featured-image single_newwindow=”false”]
You may have seen the hashtag #firstworldproblems on Twitter or Facebook. It usually follows a post where someone is complaining about something trivial – like a slow fast food drive through – that would only be a problem to those of us who live in the wealthy twenty percent of the world.
If you ever visit a developing or “third world” nation, it changes your perspective on everything. All of a sudden those minor annoyances don’t carry the same weight. Experiencing the pain of a mother watching her child slowly waste away is a jolt of reality that pierces our comfortable western bubble. When you return home, you are changed. The resources you have, the abilities and money you possess, seem wasted unless they are used to take care of those who live in such desperate poverty. I know it did for me.
I now see my efforts to take care of the poor as a moral obligation. As someone who has enough, it is my moral duty to share with those who don’t. As someone who has MORE than enough it is my moral responsibility to help those who can’t take care of themselves.
I also believe all of us have a moral obligation to be the very best version of ourselves. You alone possess your unique cocktail of experiences, talents, and perspectives. You bring something to the table no one else can provide…you.
The world is an amazing place, at once filled with desperate need and amazing opportunity. To give less than your best or become less than you could be robs this world of your impact. If you don’t offer your best there will be one less smile, one fewer helping hands, and a lifetime of missed chances to make a difference.
For just a moment, let’s ponder a few areas of life where becoming the best version of yourself would make an enormous impact on the world around you:
Many people feel guilty about becoming financially successful, fearing they will be perceived as greedy or materialistic. Greed is definitely a danger, evidenced by the consumer culture that surrounds us.
But wanting to be financially independent is not in itself greedy or self-centered. It’s what you do with that financial independence. Money is not a zero-sum game. If you have more money it doesn’t mean that others have less. It just means you are able to do more. Money makes it possible for you to give more and invest more in the people and projects that inspire you. Financial independence allows you the time to devote to those projects. You will never build a school in Africa or have an impact through your local food bank without the finances to make it happen.
No, becoming financially successful is not greedy. Instead, you have a moral obligation to earn all you can, so you can be and do all you can.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Americans spend a total of five hours per day in “leisure activities,” including television, social media, and playing games. While I think a certain amount of down time is healthy, I’m not sure five hours is making the best use of that resource called time.
What if we even took one of those hours per day and dedicated it to something meaningful, imagine what we might accomplish. That’s an extra 45 eight-hour work days dedicated to making a change in our lives, our finances or in the world around us. Seven extra work weeks instantly appeared simply by taking one hour of leisure time and committing it to something meaningful.
Small sacrifices make a big impact, that’s why making the best use of your time is a moral obligation.
You can’t do everything. Like previously mentioned, limitations of time and money can inhibit our ability to make a dent in the world around us. That’s why it’s so important to maintain our focus in all areas of our lives.
Meandering through our day, not maintaining a balance between our work and family, or “sacrificing the great on the altar of good” all make us less able to make our unique contribution on the world around us. When we allow small, insignificant tasks to take our focus from those things we were made to do, it dilutes our ability to fulfil our destiny. Saying yes to something means I’m saying no to something else.
Life is not a game. The changes we can create, the people we can help, the difference we can make demand someone who is focused on the prize. That’s why I say you have a moral obligation to say yes to what is important and no to what is not.
You Have One Job
Many times I have sat in a small, hot home in a developing nation, chickens walking through on the dusty dirt floor. And as I have looked into the eyes of those in poverty, I would consider myself an animal if I were not moved with the compassion to help the. If I have the ability, I have the obligation.
Would that we would all view the world that way. We have the ability to make a difference, and the world is in desperate need of difference makers. To do any less – to be any less – does a disservice to those whose lives we could have changed.