I have been wrestling with mixed feelings about how to go about the topic of giving with Caleb. Christmas time brings these wonderful and unique opportunities to bless other people. I always tell Caleb we give (and Santa gave-back in the day in his life) out of a love for God to bless others. The other day, we were picking up our tag to do the Angel Tree toy drive put on by the Salvation Army. Moms grabbed a tag, whisked their kid out the door, while hastily saying something about the poor kids in need that toy will be for. I don't know, it just struck me. And it has for awhile before that. I don't want to think of them as the poor kids in need. I don't want think of them as any less then us. And I don't want to foster superiority. Something about "buying things for the needy kids" bothers me. Yes, we are happy to bless others in any small or big way we can. And we should. We need to give and share. We need to help others. We need to look for ways to give of ourselves and of what we have. Always. I just don't want to make it an "us vs. them mentality." I'm not sure how to go about this yet. I don't know if what I am saying makes sense either. I just know that it's something that has been on my heart for awhile, and I am troubled by this distinction. Are we blessed? YES. Beyond measure. Caleb attends a Montessori for crying out loud. And as I have said before, Caleb has more possessions now, than I probably had in my entire childhood. No joke. It is scary. And I regularly go through and try to schlep the excess. We could use more schlepping.
I want him to know people, as people. Not the poor kids. Not the underprivileged. Not the kids in need. And there is a distinction. Caleb is more privileged. You know why? Because he is a white middle class male, and that naturally grants privileges not as easily afforded to others in lower socioeconomic statuses, or in a different status of location. It means that he doesn't have the same kind of fear another kid might have of being pulled over. Or having been wrongfully assumed of something he may not have been apart of. It means that he wont be profiled as much as someone else who fits into another persons preconceived cultural, racial, or gender biases. That's just a reality as part of living in America. And in different parts of this state or this country, it is a lot worse then others.
The point is, Caleb does have more. He always will. And it's not because of me. I am in debt and also broke most of the time, thanks to my college education (not complaining-just stating). Caleb is blessed to have a father, mother, and a family who loves him and will do anything for him. He has a community of love and support who will do the same. He has this fierce village, near and far, with hands that reach across the globe, whose hearts carry this love, just for him. So I don't think he will ever truly be in need.
I'm not sure how to reconcile this distinction. I think my desire, as I mentioned earlier, is for him to see people, as people. Kids, as kids. And if he can give a kid a toy to bless his day and make him happy, by all means. If he can bake cookies for our neighbors and apartment management to show them kindness, love, and appreciation, by all means.
This goes for any people group or culture, but I would love for Caleb to spend time with kids who have been born into a situation with disadvantage. I would love for him to hang out with the homeless church ministry and meet people with these different lives. I would love for him to be grateful for his life yes, but to also love and see the hearts of all people, no matter what.
Maybe this is all a far reach from this giving issue I've been wrestling with. I don't know. I just know, that it's a thing with me. Maybe it's not a big deal. Maybe saying we are giving to a needy kid isn't bad. I don't know. But I know that it bugs me. And I would love to hear your thoughts. Anyone's thoughts, really.
This reminds me of an article I read about missions. It's different, but it still has parallels to me. Here's the article Using your poor kid to teach my rich kid a lesson and below is an excerpt.
"When we descend upon the impoverished to improve our family's perspective, we may as well be saying to the mothers of these children, “Pardon me, I'm just gonna use your poor kid to teach my rich kid a lesson for a minute. I'll be out of the way in no time – Oh, and I'll leave you some shoes.... and a toothbrush.”
The not-so-hidden lesson there, the lesson we're teaching kids worldwide, from the suburbs to the ghettos, is that “The rich are Blessed” - which, of course, means that the poor... can suck it.
Obviously, that's not true. But that's the unintended message that we share with the world when we altruistically say "Look how Blessed I am, I drive a new car". Somehow, we've lost sight of God's true Blessing, and that is that He is Present. His face shines upon us. Rich, poor, ugly, pretty, fat, skinny, sick or healthy, hipsters, hookers, lepers, rockstars; it makes no difference -
Immanuel... GOD. WITH. US.
ALL of us. ALL the time. No matter what....
Sadly, the Church's humanitarian efforts are sometimes leading people away from this vital Truth.
Should we strive to teach our own children not to be entitled and self-indulgent? Absolutely! But it cannot come at the price of devaluing another human being. Even unintentionally."