Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Welcome to APLS!

One of my favorite bloggers is at it again! This time green bean helped coordinate a blog, the purpose of which is to help eco-minded bloggers connect with each other. There are local chapters forming around the country and the APLS site hosts monthly "carnivals" on relevant topics. (A carnival is an event in which bloggers all write about the same topic and then there are links to everyone's posts from a central site.) There's also a cool button available, but I haven't used it because, well, it reminds me too much of the picture of a poison apple from my childhood copy of "Snow White." Sorry, green bean.

The APLS acronym stands for "Affluent Persons Living Sustainably." For last month's carnival, which I missed, the topic was "sustainability." This month's topic is "affluence." (The carnival will be posted 9/15 on green bean's blog.) Everyone hates the word, but in global terms, the majority of those who live in the US are affluent and we have unbelievable wealth compared to our poorest neighbor. Click on this link to see what's happening in Haiti right now. It's heartbreaking.

That said, I still don't like the word affluence. I have a loving husband, darling little boy, my health, a job, a house and I live in a nice community in the wealthiest country in the world. When I first wrote that list, I forgot to even include that I have food to eat and clothes to wear, because I've never known what it was like to be without. I'm late in getting my APLS submission in (and I hope they still include me!) because last night I was... well... playing with my new laptop computer. In global and historic terms, I am rich beyond measure. The word "affluence," on the other hand, connotes to me glitz, glamor, big houses and expensive cars. Maybe I'm confusing it with "opulence."

So forget the word. One thing that really impressed me after reading "Three Cups of Tea" was how little money it takes to make a really big difference in a developing country. Mortensen built his first school in Pakistan for $12K. Now, that's a lot of money for me, but really -- 12K? To build a whole school? Compassion International has a program where a gift of $32/month purchases food, schooling, recreation and medical care for one child. Try that in the US!

I don't know what to think of these figures. Things are cheaper overseas? Standards are lower? People can get along quite nicely on a lower standard of living than what we consider to be a necessity? Years ago I was deep in the jungles of Mexico in a rainstorm that threatened snow, and my group stopped off at the most welcome, warmest, coziest little house I've ever seen. The house was made of mud, but obviously it kept a family very comfortable. We don't even have the option of living like that here in the US -- the building permit guys would laugh us out of the office!

I digress. The point is, we have a lot compared to most of the world, and it takes very little to make a positive difference in the life of someone who has need. The apostle Paul wrote, "For if the willlingness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has, not according to what he does not have. Our desire is not that others might be relieved while you are hard pressed, but that there might be equality. At the present time your plenty will supply what they need, so that in turn their plenty will supply what you need. Then there will be equality." (2 Cor. 8:12-14) It's something to think about.


Joyce said...

Thanks, Donna, for pointing out how easily we could share, even just a little, with those who really need it. This is what I've been thinking about so much as I read blogs from people who are trying to simplify their lives. Where is the money they are saving? Is is just sitting in some Mutual Fund somewhere? I'm all infavor of debt reduction and taking care of your family's future, but couldn't at least a few dollars go to someone who has no safety net or opportunities?
Okay, end of soap-box rant.

Green Bean said...

Great post, Donna! Even if you don't like the logo. ;-)

I agree with Joyce. I love that you point out what a small amount of money we could set aside to help others.

Donna said...

Joyce: You can rant here any time you like. :) I have to say, though, that my experience is that the changes we've made have been more expensive, not less. Buying local or organic food may be cheaper at the farmers' market than at the grocery store, but it's a lot more expensive than buying conventional like I used to! I know there's people out there saving a lot of $$, but we've always lived pretty cheaply and so we haven't seen that great savings.

gb: It really is amazing how much a little money helps for people who are really in need! Glad you liked my post. :)

Melinda said...

Wonderful post, Donna. With all our work, equality will come a little closer to becoming reality... I hope.

Because of a suggestion I made to Arduous and Green Bean, they asked me to create a new logo. Is it better?

Donna said...

Thanks, Melinda. You did great work on the logo. It still reminds me of Snow White, but not quite so much. :) I'd most likely use your new logo, though, if we decide to change the word to "all" as you suggest.

By the way, Melinda's got a great post & discussion on the word "affluence" going on her blog. Check it out!

Mama said...

I love this post, because I feel the same way. Our affluence gives us a resonsibility to do anything, even a little for those who are less fortunate. And in the end, it is us who are the most blessed from doing it!

Donna said...

mama: That's the irony, isn't it! We still end up benefitting the most! Thanks for visiting.