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Daily we are confronted with headlines and stories that are filled with frightening and unrelenting accounts of personal bankruptcies, mortgage defaults, plummeting values in stock portfolios and retirement funds, and reminders of the highest unemployment indices since the Great Depression. Earlier this week it was announced that roughly 1 in 7 U. S. residents “found themselves in poverty in 2009.” Many people feel saturated by these stories of loss, lack, and personal despair that stir fear in the heart and direct our focus away from any positive sense of strength, self-determination, and personal autonomy.
United Centers for Spiritual Living recognizes that we stand in the midst of challenging economic times. And we believe that we collectively hold the keys to both personal and global financial health and
freedom. Where there is scarcity, we see immense generosity. Where there is poverty, we see richness of spirit. Where there is fear and focus on lack, we see specific instances of selfless giving.
We have great respect and empathy for those members of our society who are currently impacted by loss of employment, reduced wages, and unforeseen economic difficulties. We stand in support of the many Americans who are searching for employment in order to make meaningful contributions for themselves, for their families, and for the greater good of society.
We believe that the hearts of most Americans are filled with deep compassion and the instinct for personal generosity toward those family members, friends, and neighbors whose lives have been greatly changed by stagnant economic conditions. We also believe that these times present unique opportunities for each of us to make thoughtful choices that are not merely a repetition of old ways of thinking, when personal value was measured by accumulated wealth. We see this as a time of great personal and global awakening as individuals and nations explore ways to create growth and expansion in education, investment, and the world’s economy.
Our founder, Ernest Holmes, wrote that “to assert our individuality is to rise above the law of averages.” If we are to make lasting changes in our collective thinking about the nature of personal value and personal wealth, we may begin by looking at how we value our individual contributions to one another. We are able to be more than average when we express ourselves in extraordinary ways.
During the recent catastrophic fires in San Bruno, California, following a natural gas pipeline explosion, the outpouring of generosity from the community, both near and far, greatly exceeded the needs of those residents who lost everything in a matter of a few hours. This week, local newspaper headlines announced: “Outpouring of support helps heal community.” One news account quoted relief worker Mike Bernstein who, as he loaded boxes of donated clothes and baby supplies that were not needed, stated “people are just too generous. [It] is not unusual for there to be piles of leftover items … in part because the response is overwhelming.” Even in the midst of challenging economic times, we can be encouraged by such examples of boundless generosity of both spirit and personal resources. Where the need is great, so is there also great response.
Consider also the incident of a house fire some three weeks ago in my own neighborhood when a pre-dawn fire burned a home to the ground. The neighborhood stood shoulder to shoulder with its newest family, residents for only five weeks, who were driven out of their home ahead of fierce flames that singed their hair and clothing. The family dog, a pit bull named Pokey, had awakened his people by barking loudly at the back door where smoke poured into the house from the garage. Pokey saved his family from the fire.
After the fire, when the house and property were sectioned off with cyclone fencing for safety, Pokey’s family created a sign on brown butcher paper to affix to the fence that read simply: “We Thank U! Love, Pokey’s family.” Neighbors, standing before the charred shell of the home, wrote messages of encouragement and support for the family on the sign: Thank God you are safe! And: You are in our prayers. And: We are here for you. Then, in an act of inspiration, the Neighborhood Association established an account at a local Target Store’s gift registry for “Pokey’s Family” and placed notices on the cyclone fence with the account name and number for people in the area to donate specifically and meaningfully to the family. To, in effect, help them rise from the ashes into a new beginning.
Ernest Holmes noted that “as we bring ourselves to a greater vision, we induce a greater concept and thereby demonstrate more in our experience.” As we have a larger vision of the meaning of well-being, we allow for the expansion of creative ideas that become the seeds of a healthy economy.
Small acts of community kindness and personal generosity become the foundation of a larger vision of economic expansion and stability. The slogan “think globally, act locally” has never been more relevant for us as members of our small communities, as a nation, and as citizens of a world that is in the midst of creating a new global consciousness. We can make difference. We are the solution, as we take personal and thoughtful responsibility for how we act, how we create opportunities for growth and expansion, and how we live in the world.