Happy Selfgiving!

Is anybody else getting whiplash from our culture that doesn’t know if it wants to give a helping hand or reach out and hit you with it? We’ve been through a roller coaster of a week and I’m starting to think the migraine I’ve had is from more than just annoyingly-repetitious TV commercials.

We start with Thanksgiving-a day for family and ultimately, to be thankful that we have food on the table and that we are alive and building new relationships. Which has now become a day to overeat, rush through the meal and family time, so we can run out and fight over sales for some piece of technology that will be outdated and tossed aside less than a year later.

Followed by Black Friday, the original bash-each-other-for-bargains day.

Then Small Business Saturday, another shopping day, but with a slightly generous undertone because we’re trying to reach out to the little guy.

Then came Cyber Monday-a day without physical violence, but isolating us all to our computer screens, cursing some anonymous screen-name for nabbing the last Xbox One that we were planning on giving our kids who clearly can’t survive with something as primitive as an Xbox 360.

And now, we have Giving Tuesday, an attempt to wrap up all the selfishness into a charitable donation with those few dollars we saved by pulverizing our neighbors.

I’m a little nauseous just typing the ups and downs of this week. It’s amazing to me how we’ve deteriorated as a society. Some of the most basic things that were able to unify us as human beings can no longer do the trick because we’re too busy thinking about ourselves. The holidays are no longer about family and togetherness but merely about stuff. And before you say that you’re going out to buy stuff for someone else, the reality is you’re still saving yourself money; and more often than not, we end up spending more than those savings on ourselves anyway. [Note: I’m all for buying people gifts and saving money so I can get more for people (or pay my bills or whatever)-but there is a difference between saving money and sacrificing our humanity.]

So now we’re at war with ourselves. Internally and externally. We hate ourselves for checking the clock every five minutes after Thanksgiving dinner before finally rushing our guests out the door so we can follow them out. So we have to swing to the other extreme to cover our tracks. We’ll go out the next day and spend twice as much on the same items to support a small business; before once again thinking murderous thoughts online that Monday; to yet again, turn around to make a donation for charity on Tuesday.

Again, I feel it important to point out that I support charity and small business as well. Please donate to a cause; lots of causes! But don’t do it the day after you shoved someone out of a line so you could get the last 60″ TV as some sort of payment for your guilt. Give to charity because people need help to provide meals for their families. Give to charity to help a dying child beat cancer. Give to charity all year long.  Support small businesses all year long.

My point here is just that we need a reality check. We think by adding on a “giving” day we’re negating the previous “taking” day. All we’re really doing is adding to the ever growing identity crisis of our culture. We’re blurring the lines of thankful hearts and greedy spirits. I’m almost 27 and I’m simply overwhelmed by it, but what about someone who is 17? How about 7? What kind of a message are we presenting to the future generations? All they’re seeing is that anything is allowable as long as you do something nice afterward. And we wonder why there are so many people trapped in abusive relationships! Well, he hit me, but he said he was sorry and bought me a necklace, so it must be ok… Don’t you see how important these messages are? They aren’t confined to holiday shopping. It’s a lesson in character and humanity and we are setting ourselves up for some serious problems.

I think we all just need to be more aware of how loud our actions speak and that everything they are saying is influencing a culture, not a hobby. We need to go a little old school. How often were you told to respect your elders growing up? Have you noticed that with each passing year we are becoming the elders? I don’t mean that to make anyone feel old but I’m saying that each year there are more people being born who are (go figure) younger than you. That’s a lot more people who are looking up to you as an influencer of who they will one day become. Don’t let them down. Help them be honest, loving, genuine people instead of the hypocritical, excusing, entitled people we’ve allowed ourselves to be.

I’m certainly not perfect; I’m learning and making mistakes that I hope my future kids will one day learn from. But I’m doing everything in my power to be intentional with my thoughts and actions. I may not have kids yet, but there are so many other people’s kids that are in my life. I don’t want to dishonor my relationships with them by giving them character-whiplash. Intentionality is an individual choice, but if enough of us make that choice, we have the power to shift our culture into something worth emulating. Consider those consequences.

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