Are you/we a “Have” or a “Have-not”?

It’s a common theme at this time of the year, but it holds true in most parts of the world. Autumn is a time for change. The physical changes happening all around us seem to be an impetus for internal change processes. We send our children back to school, we ramp up the extra-curricular activities and move into a faster pace than the relaxed summer days (personally those weren’t around long enough for my liking).

I always feel compelled to reflect on my life and consider what changes need to happen in order for me to move forward and feel content with the direction of my life. I’ve been considering a lot what I want out of my life and how to achieve it. I feel compelled to make a difference in this world, which I know most of us do if we take the time to really consider what legacy we’d like to leave behind us at the end of our time on this earth. For me, it’s simply been a part of the way I think , for as long as I can recall.  I want the people and community around me to change with me, for the better.

I live in a “have” community in a “have not” region of a wealthy developed nation. What this region lacks is globally insignificant – in comparison to the “have not” regions of the world. Globally we are very well-off. What many of our impoverished must do without is still a far better scenario than those of other nations. Some would accept that as proof that we don’t need to change. I disagree. If we look around us there are people among us living without. Without everyday necessities. They live without things that many of us would never accept doing without in our own lives. Yet, we judge those same people for mis-spending, while we would never invite someone else’s judgment of our spending habits. Somehow most of us feel entitled to our privacy and right to determine our own priorities without external interference, yet think nothing of judging our neighbors who struggle to get by for their “poor choices”.

This is endemic in our society and way of being. We do so at the very micro level – passing judgment on our neighbors – and we do so at varying macro levels.

In my “have” community it is not uncommon to hear residents complain about being forced to contribute to the larger system, only to see other communities benefit from those funds for things that our own community believes not to be necessary (and we usually already have). Or a poor choice of priorities. Or (imagine!) to be taking away funds from our own community’s own priorities.

Now don’t get me wrong, I want to see my community develop and grow and thrive. I hate for us to do without in order for other priorities to be met. However, I believe very much that it is our responsibility as citizens of a larger community to consider what sacrifices might need to be made in order to lift others up. We must consider that if we make those sacrifices, and others are lifted up, the result will benefit us all. It’s always circular.

Just as we sometimes need to sacrifice something of our own (time/money, etc.) to help a family member or neighbor in need, so too must neighboring communities, regions, provinces, and yes, even nations. I absolutely support our nation helping those less fortunate nations, especially in extreme times of need (i.e. during floods, and earthquakes and wars). I also support each and every one of us remembering that it starts at home. If we take the time to care for our neighbors, we will as a nation have greater capacity to help other nations.

I’m not in a position to have much of an impact on the state of the world, or even how my own nation fits into that picture, but I can start right here at home. My vision is that my immediate community will begin to make it a priority to share our wealth, to lift up those around us, so that we all can become “have communities”, so that we can become a “have province” and one day be able to say that there are NO “have-not regions” in our own nation. When we can finally say that, we will be in a position to offer so much more to other parts of this world.

We CAN change the world, one person, one neighborhood, one community at a time.  Be the Change!