YouTubesday: No Time Left

The videos below are created by famous directors about the eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) set, in 2000, by the international community (189 countries) to reduce extreme poverty by 2015.
They are interesting and engaging videos, not high speed dramas, but intriguing. The player below (click through the email or RSS to view) has all 8 videos, starting with one about Development.


What if You Could Stop an Earthquake?

Mosquito NetEven today, over a month later, thousands are in desperate need of help in Haiti. It has been encouraging to see the global community come together in the moment of crisis to help an entire country recover from near total destruction. But this post isn’t about Haiti. It’s not about devastation we saw when Katrina or the Tsunami hit or the carnage of lesser publicized natural disasters in China, Pakistan and Iran over the last several years. This also isn’t about belittling the need in those moments or the compassion and outpouring of goodwill that it sparks.

This is about what we are going to do between those moments. How we are going to live when the images fade away from the public attention and the relief effort coffers are full. What will our generosity look like when the need isn’t for a one-time “act of god” disaster, but for the daily un-natural disasters of poverty, contaminated water and disease. How will we respond when our interaction with these realities is an occasional commercial of a desolate child needing sponsorship? Just one of the millions of children across our globe struggling to survive, one of 30,000 dying every day of diseases we can treat, lack of clean water we could fix, or economic disparities our nations helped create.

It almost feels good responding to a natural disaster. There was nothing you could do beforehand to stop what happened, but now you can open your wallet, with no guilt, and only pity and charity, and help these unfortunate people in their time of need. It’s a one time thing, you can even sacrifice a little bit, and then you can move on and go on about your life.

What if the equivalent of the Haiti earthquake happened every week? And what if you knew it was going to happen the following week and the week after that and the week after that. What if it was an un-natural disaster that you could actually do something to prevent? What if God had given you and many others who believe “love your neighbor as yourself” the resources to stop this disaster, to turn the tide? What if you could stop an earthquake?

Today you have an opportunity to stop an disaster, tomorrow you’ll have the chance too. Will you stand in the way of the disaster of Malaria? Contaminated drinking water? Education? Will you make sacrifices, live differently, alter your decisions in the same way you did when the earthquake struck? Will you appeal to friends and rise up a community response to the desperate needs in your community or around the globe?

On friendly chit-chat and inspiration

Last Thursday, I had the chance to sit down and chill for a couple hours with Derek Webb. As I’ve mentioned before, I’m a big fan of Derek Webb, probably one of my favorite musicians. I’m a lyric guy and Webb’s lyrics on his last few albums have resonated with my heart and faith more then any other (and the music isn’t bad either).

My wife and I went to the concert Thursday evening, ran into a couple from our church there, and then (thanks to the wives smooth talking) wound up eating chips & salsa and onions rings at the Kitty Kat Club with Derek Webb after the show. We talked about life, kids, and our ironically red, white and blue chips. All in all, it was just a great time getting to know some new friends.

It reminded me of a brief visit I took to The Simple Way several years back. Many people know of Shane Claiborne and The Simple Way nowadays, since Irresistible Revolution came out. Before that, I’d read about Claiborne and the wall street money drop and had connected with him when he visited our college. And I wanted to go see what this magical community they had going on out there in Philly.

My brother and I went for a quick visit and Shane showed us around the place, took us on the roof where they were growing plants in old appliances, in the basement where they gathered clothes to give away and the modest bedrooms where 5 people where living. What quickly set in though, was that it was not magical at all. It was a handful of people, normal people, just trying to live out their faith. I came home from the trip eager to build that sort of sharing and community into our own lives. And we did.

It took only a few minutes of conversation to realize Derek is just a normal person with a normal life too. Not every line that comes out of his mouth is “I’m trading comfort for human life and that’s not just murder it’s suicide.” He tweets, hangs out with his kids, plays music, and says controversial things sometimes. And a couple hours hanging out moved him out of the celebrity category (which is a good thing).

I was reminded of two things. One, I don’t need to try and say something controversial or brilliant all the time. As the audience on this blog grows, I feel a growing pressure to impress, but I don’t need to. It’s okay to be normal. Two, celebrity or not, we’re all on a journey. I don’t have any fantasies of becoming BFF with Derek Webb, but I am reminded that we daily have the opportunity to enter into others lives and I’m inspired to find others nearby to walk along that journey with.

“My friend did you know you are my brother”

I Will Pay You To Eat Chocolate

Yes, you heard it right folks, step right up; come one, come all; I’m gonna pay you to eat chocolate. Do I have your attention now? Good. I’d like to embark on a bit of an experiment with five other willing participants. I’d like to encourage others to eat chocolate in the same way I have. A few years ago, I decided to start eating Fair-trade chocolate. To put it bluntly, I was bothered by the idea of purchasing products that were harvest by children in slavery. I’d like to encourage others to make the switch to fair-trade chocolate and today, I’m putting my money where my mouth is.

Here are the specifics:

  • I will take five participants (the pockets are only so deep). In the event that we have more then five interested, my wife will decide whose in and whose out. This is intended for people I know personally, but anyone is welcome to inquire.
  • I will pay for the difference between what you would normally purchase in conventional chocolate and the cost of switching to a fair trade option (up to $20 a month). For example, let’s say you typically by 3 chocolate bars a week at $1 a piece (total $12 a month). Instead you commit to buying fair trade chocolate bars at $2 a piece (total $24 a month). I will give you the difference, $12, to make that switch.
  • This will mean doing less impulse buying (vending machines or checkout lines) and planning ahead a little (ordering online or visiting a local co-op to stock up).
  • I’ll check in each month to discuss how much you spent. I will ask for you to track it. The goal isn’t to abuse my generosity, but to provide an incentive for others to make the switch to Fair-trade.
  • I plan on continuing the experiment for 6 months.
  • If you participate you will need to commit to purchasing and eating/drinking only fair-trade chocolate during the 6 months.

So, how does that sound? Interested in joining me in this little experiment?

Fill out the form.

Need more info on the Chocolate industry?