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.