Okay, I’m not anti-dog, anti-animal or against people caring well for their pets. I had a dog growing up that I loved as well as other pets. The difficult part is that when I compare life in the U.S. to several other countries I’ve visited, I just can’t help but think they might feel sick about us buying our pets Christmas presents, snazzy toys, outfits, expensive food, and now – a carseat with a great view outside. I’m sure a dog-lover made it for good reasons and this is a free country and if there’s a market for it . . . . but, I still picture people in poverty who would look at an item like this as such a ridiculous luxury instead of a need. I wonder what they think of us based on how we spend our money. What if we had to sit in front of a widowed mother face-to-face and tell her we couldn’t give a nickel to help her feed her children because of the things we needed to buy for our family? Then what if we showed her each item we had purchased that month and explained why we needed it more desperately than helping her family? What if they lived across the street and they saw me drive up with large grocery bags full of not-exactly-essentials, knowing that their kids were starving? I think we would be so much more generous if we actually had to face people that were struggling that desperately, rather than having them hidden in some projects somewhere in a different neighborhood or half-way around the world.
I didn’t intend to write this to make you feel guilty if you have a dog or if you’ve gone shopping for something this month — not at all. I do however, think about things like this often: How can I actually live out the values that I claim to believe? How can my experiences with the poor and in so many countries affect my day-to-day life and habits? How can I invest in others – especially the poor, orphans, widows, single mothers – and influence others to? I know I can’t make a difference for every person, but what I can do for one or for one community?