I am not so sure about the divisions they say exist among Americans. When folks tell me they are scared about where our country is going, I try and reassure them. Life has always been hard- and if you pick any decade out of history since the beginning of time, you could argue that there were worse times than the present. We have lots to complain about- and plenty of problems that fuel our anxiety- but what if we don’t want to feel badly all the time? What if we banish fear from our thoughts? What if we harness our creativity and let go of the reins of dread?
Creativity can not exist in a state of destruction. If we are busy tearing down, we are not building. Creativity, at its center, is about imagination. You can not imagine if you are constantly derailed by your own pain. Creativity is about the free flow of possibilities and how we choose joy. Creativity is not an amusing aphorism you read on a dish towel- it’s about you and your voice and your particular gifts. It’s about how you decide to share those gifts. It’s about how you see the world and what you want others to know about your point of view.
Without gratitude, the essential act of creating, of building, can not take place. Gratitude is about giving- being grateful is the understanding that someone sacrificed for you- and now it’s your turn to sacrifice for them. The folks who take always wind up miserable- because whatever portion they get is never enough. Talk about the glass half full- they don’t even have a glass.
Giving is so personal- it says so much about you- where you put your resources tells the world what you believe in and how you shape those beliefs into some kind of action. Sometimes, the creative giver isn’t sure how her resources will be used, but trusts the vision of the organization and goes for it anyway. Tithing is an act of generosity inside our churches and synagogues and mosques. Paying our fair share of taxes in our democracy provides for the safety of the public and upkeep of our services, which serve all people equally. Giving spare change on a street corner to someone who asks for it or providing a hot meal for someone who is hungry is an act of kindness that can reverberate. If we are kind and generous, if we empathize with those around us- which means we feel their struggle- and therefore understand it, means we can and will make the world better one person at a time.
We all have favorite causes- and some of us trust others to make those decisions for us- but I would ask you to think about the places you have been where you saw empathy in action- and give to those organizations and people. Anyone who loves children can not go wrong with a donation to The Imagination Library, The Origin Project, St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital or The Health Wagon in southwest Virginia. Bob Woodruff’s foundation supports veterans in need. For services across the board for children, the hungry, and the sick, choose from: Broadway Cares/Equity Fights Aids, Project Open Hand in San Francisco, Gretchen Ginnerty’s The Love Quilt Project, and the Mikono Refugee Craft Shop that trains East African refugees to make and market their crafts. I could go on and on- and I hope you will in the comment section below. Please remember to include a link to donate.
If you decide to donate ten dollars you could give one dollar to ten important organizations- imagine if 10,000 of us followed the ten-dollar donation model- our resources would provide a tsunami of help in the places where people need it the most. What a glorious way to celebrate the holiday season!