Share Your Leftovers

Musician, blogger and Compassion advocate Shaun Groves is in India right on another Compassion bloggers tour. These are pretty incredible trips (they did Uganda last year and the Dominican Republic last fall) and admittedly hard to read.

This morning I checked in on his blog and came across this post about leftovers. It turns out to be the same pitch he gave at a concert in Minnesota a couple weeks back that I happened to attend (which is great, because now it’s in writing, not just in my head). It’s a powerful statement on how God provides for us, but he only wants us to take what we need for each day. It’s an Old Testament rule that Paul repeats in the New Testament: Share your leftovers so everybody can have enough.

In America, it seems, we’re gorging ourselves on leftovers while the rest of the world starves. Using this idea of leftovers, Shaun challenges people to sponsor children through Compassion using their leftovers. And there are tons of other ways to do it. That’s part of why I keep doing these ‘you can change your world’ posts.

It’s easier than you think to change the world.

You Can Change the World: With a Tomato

Twin Citizens can head to Bachman’s this weekend to support Children’s Home Society & Family Services (our adoption agency). For $5 you can get all the fixings to pot a tomato plant right in the store (fun for the kids!) and 100% of the money will go to CHSFS. It’s an easy Mother’s Day gift or a cheap way to add a little green for you apartment dwellers.

It’s this Saturday and Sunday, May 2-3, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Bachman’s. You can find more details at the CHSFS site.

You Can Change the World: Vote for Homeless

I’ve talked about the site before and the incredible work being done there. Mark is the man behind the site, formerly homeless himself, unemployed and on the verge of being homeless again. He’s been holding on for quite a while now and it’s great to see the site continue and help people start seeing the homeless.

You can help Mark and by simply posting a comment on this blog entry, thus giving your vote to to win a $3,000 grant. So follow that link and comment and you can keep Mark’s site going.

How’s that for easy way to do something important?

What’s the Ideal Population of Humanity?

OK, so bizarre ethical/sci-fi/theological question based on yesterday’s post about carrying capacity of a planet: What’s the ideal number of people to have?

From an ethical perspective, the ideal number would seem to be as many as we can reasonably support. Meaning, however many people can live happily on the planet and not over-use our resources. OK, say we hit that ideal number. More people would mean a decreased quality of life for everyone, if not collapse of the planet. So what’s the best solution ethically? Do we try any means necessary to increase that ideal number through technological advancements (taller buildings, more efficient systems, colonizing other planets, etc.) or do we limit population growth to maintain that ideal number?

From a theological perspective, is there some sort of imperative to always have more people? This sort of goes back to God’s command to Noah to multiply and fill the earth, which raises the question, when have we fulfilled this command? Assuming the ethical concerns are met (seems like bad theology to be willing to have more people in poor conditions just so you can evangelize them), does it make sense to go and make disciples by going and making more people? Should the church always be in favor of population growth so that more people can worship God and make him known?

They often say less is more, but is that true for humanity?

I’m just babbling here and throwing out bizarre questions I don’t have the answer to. These are the kinds of things I think about late at night.

5.4 Acres Per Person

So I’ve been thinking about the whole 5.4 acres per person thing (and not 72 square feet). Strangely enough, I find population density fascinating. Now that we’ve done the math right, I wonder what that means. Is 5.4 acres enough for a person to live on?

Clearly that’s a lot of space, but it starts to feel smaller when you consider things like growing food, dealing with waste, generating power, etc. One person said that’s comparable to four football fields.

It all leads to the question what is the carrying capacity of the planet? How many people can the planet sustain? Some people think we’ve already passed that number (which, if true, would raise all sorts of scary ethical questions and push us into eerie sci-fi territory). I don’t know what that number would be, but it would surely involve plenty of math for me to screw up. Plus all sorts of variables and intricacies that gets pretty darn complicated.

While I like pondering some of those unsolvable questions, what it really comes down to for me is what are you doing with your 5.4 acres? Are you living in such a way that you’re burning up resources and space and time? Or are you conserving what you can in order to save some for the other 6,769,999,999 people on this planet (not to mention the generations to come)?

Continue reading 5.4 Acres Per Person

Surviving the First Week

Abby went back to work on Monday and we’ve now survived our first week back to “normal.”

In some ways it was great. I actually managed to accomplish some things. I kept up with the minimal amount of work I have right now (and actually had a few leads come in for more work). I even managed to do a little cleaning and reorganizing (with two kids I think we’re always going to be reorganizing something).

In some ways it was not so great. Like when Lexi peed on the bathroom rug while I was giving Milo a bath (if that wasn’t enough, the washing machine then ate the rug—I think it’s time to put the rug out of its misery). Or when Abby was late getting home from school and Milo had been screaming on and off for an hour and wouldn’t take a nap and Lexi started screaming and then Speak had a seizure (Speak’s OK, he’s had them before and there’s not much we can do about it—consequences of a small, pet store dog). Those moments were less than fun.

I keep trying to tell myself that I don’t have to actually accomplish anything during the day (keeping the kids alive and fed is an accomplishment in and of itself), but that doesn’t jive with my responsibility-driven nature. I also keep trying to summon patience I don’t naturally have. With a wailing 6-month-old and a 3-year-old who refuses to listen, I need a deep well of patience.

But overall we did manage to survive. So that’s good.

72 Square Feet Per Person

Redacted: This post is withdrawn because I can’t do math. It’s not 72 square feet per person, it’s more like 236,806 square feet per person. Doh! I made a silly conversion error, effectively assuming 1 square yard would equal three square feet, since 1 yard equals three feet. Of course 1 square yard is actually 9 square feet. And I made that error twice. Doh indeed.

Anyway, 236,806 square feet per person. That’s about 5.4 acres (again, if I did my math right), but being a city boy I have no concept for the size of an acre. As a commenter pointed out, agriculture and uninhabitable land probably changes that number quite a bit. But it doesn’t change the fact that I was wrong.

I think my point still makes sense (to whom much is given, much is required), but the math totally sucks. This is why my dad and brother are engineers, while I majored in writing and art.

Redacted. (But we’ll keep the original post after the jump as an object lesson to less than eager math students.)

Continue reading 72 Square Feet Per Person

Environmentalism and My Soul

In his April 18 column in the New York Times, “It’s 2009, Do You Know Where Your Soul Is?”, Bono talked about Easter and where our values are in these difficult economic times. This section seemed poignant to me on Earth Day:

The preacher said, “What good does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses his soul?” Hearing this, every one of the pilgrims gathered in the room asked, “Is it me, Lord?” In America, in Europe, people are asking, “Is it us?”

Well, yes. It is us.

Carnival is over. Commerce has been overheating markets and climates … the sooty skies of the industrial revolution have changed scale and location, but now melt ice caps and make the seas boil in the time of technological revolution. Capitalism is on trial; globalization is, once again, in the dock. We used to say that all we wanted for the rest of the world was what we had for ourselves. Then we found out that if every living soul on the planet had a fridge and a house and an S.U.V., we would choke on our own exhaust.

The last section hints at what I think is the most compelling reason for environmentalism. It’s not necessarily for the environment. Don’t get me wrong. I think there are compelling reasons for valuing nature, preserving species, hugging the trees and all that. But what I think is more compelling is the human element.

If all of humanity were to live like we do in America this planet would collapse. With our air conditioning and cars and houses (that seem to grow exponentially) we just consume too much. All six billion people on this planet can’t have that.

Which begs the question, why should we?

Continue reading Environmentalism and My Soul

Holocaust Remembrance Day

Yesterday was Yom HaShoah, a day of remembrance for the Holocaust of World War II. It’s a day I knew nothing about until a friend’s Twitter post and my sister-in-law’s blog entry. It’s a somber day in Israel and a siren sounds twice during the day bringing everything to a halt for two minutes of silence. People even stop their cars and get out.

Like much of family history, Holocaust stories are important to share and remember. These stories (Holocaust and otherwise) provide a vital infusion of humanity and connection into what could otherwise be distant history. These stories are not so distant history, even if they happened hundreds of years ago. We’re still connected to them and they had an impact on our DNA.

Here’s a brief excerpt of my sister-in-law’s story:

All of the able bodied Jews were used as slave labor in various capacities, while the old, sickly, and the children were left behind in the ghetto. One day my grandparents and oldest uncle returned from their day of “work” to find that those they had left behind in the ghetto had been slaughtered. Their bodies were left in the streets. My great grandparents were amongst the dead, as well as my uncle, who had been decapitated. He was three years old. My grandfather realized that he needed to escape the ghetto or die. He somehow managed to get himself, my grandmother, and my teenage uncle out of the ghetto. They spent the next few years in the woods of Poland with Partisans. The fought the Nazis by sabotaging bridges and trains.

It’s worth reading the rest of her post (though I disagree with her political conclusions).

Back to “Normal”

Tomorrow Abby heads back to work and I get to tackle a 3-year-old and a 6-month-old on my own. It’s a return to normal, if you can call that normal. I’m not really ready for being double-teamed, but I guess you never are. Sometimes I wonder how parents manage to stay home with multiple kids, but I guess people do it all the time. I never understand how single parents do it.

Fortunately there are only about five weeks left of school and then Abby’s off for the summer. It’s an early summer vacation this year, and for that we’re thankful.

All this handling of children seems so natural and easy, like a normal rhythm of life that just happens. At least it seems that way until you actually do it and realize there’s nothing easy about it.

There’s a great temptation to just do what’s easy with children. To take the path of least resistance. I’m great at giving in to that temptation.

What? You don’t want to wear pants? Meh, whatever—we’re not leaving the house.

What? You want to watch Sesame Street every day? OK.

What? You’re throwing a fit? Just go to your room because I don’t want to deal with you.

Continue reading Back to “Normal”