Thursday, March 14, 2013

Simple Suggestion #155... Support human dignity

Lent is the time of year when the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace invites us to live in solidarity with our sisters and brothers in the global south -- or the developing world, if you prefer. As someone who does her best to practice Voluntary Simplicity, I see this as an objective that is right in line with simple living. Life in the developed world has become so materially consumptive that we could learn a lot from the simplicity with which people in the developing world live.

That's not to say that life in the global south is an ideal we want to emulate in all respects. There is so much hardship, disease, and difficulty in some places that I'm sure I wouldn't know how to cope. But in many of those places, there is also a stronger sense of community than we experience in most North American cities. We tend to think of our wealthy lifestyles as having much to offer the poor, but I suspect the poor have more things of value to teach us than we have to teach them when it comes to looking after each other.

So this weekend, our family is taking part in a Development and Peace ThinkFast, a 25 hour period of fasting (no food) that is packed with activities and education about life in the developing world. We will fast in support of D&P's partnerships with programs that promote human dignity in countries in the global south, we will raise funds for those programs, and we will learn about the needs of different communities in different places across the globe.

I really love D&P's emphasis on Human Dignity this year. I had never thought about it before, but for as long as I remember, I don't recall seeing a forlorn or impoverished-looking person in their advertising, posters, and brochures. Unlike some agencies that try to guilt people into giving by presenting pitiful pictures of the needy, D&P prefers to promote their cause with the joyful faces of people whose human dignity has been served by partnerships between people in the developed world and people in the global south who are working to lift themselves, their families and their communities out of poverty. Look at the gorgeous girls above, and you'll see what I mean. They are an example of what happens when a development organization provides assistance by working with a community rather than parachuting in to do 'for,' and flying out again without being sure that their assistance has made a lasting difference.

Even if Lent has no meaning in your life, perhaps now is a good time to give some thought to supporting an organization that works for positive change from the grassroots, or to learn about a community in the developing world and what you can do to strengthen it. Even contributing to an agency that helps local homeless people would be an excellent choice, simply because an important part of Voluntary Simplicity is showing solidarity with those who have less than we do, and offering our friendship in whatever way we can. Most of us in North America have more than enough to share during Lent... and the rest of the year, too.

What's your favourite way to support human dignity in the global south -- or nearby?

For more information about Development and Peace and its initiatives, click here.

P.S. Looking for more Simple Suggestions? Try here.

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