Monday, November 17, 2008

Social Responsibility and Thanksgiving

Jo Hunter Adams

This Thanksgiving seemed like a good opportunity to think back on the past year. Although I've thought about the idea of social responsibility in the abstract for a pretty long time, this past year is the first time I've had the opportunity to think concretely about my own resources, and what I want to work towards doing with them.

This past year, I went from having two part time jobs to one full time job. What struck me in that transition was how much I loved and appreciated those I worked with. The job is clearly a gift, much as the previous two jobs were.

I still think about the idea of home a fair amount- although our home is completely my home, it is also absolutely not my home, because my extended family is very far away. Our apartment is a source of huge thanksgiving-- in providing a place for us but also in providing a level of freedom that would be much more difficult if rent were more expensive. Social responsibility is difficult in Boston (and probably anywhere) because the trend is towards focusing on increasing comfort. It's super easy to want to move into a bigger apartment or house, or even to just buy more stuff. Social responsibility and frugality seem to be closely related.

We've had a budget for the first time this year. It's helped us pay back close to half our annual income in student loan debt. It's also meant we've been able to give away several thousand dollars.

As I have learned about the impact of even small choices, I've felt empowered to enjoy and be grateful for the resources I am using up, and also think about how to make changes for the long term so that, over my lifetime, I use up less. As a Christian, there's often a tendency to think about the earth's resources in a pretty fatalistic way-- "God's gonna take care of us"-- but that would mean that whatever we do is just a game, which doesn't ring true. It's much more possible that God wants us to experience abundance through responsible stewardship.

Sorry for the fragmented post-- Happy Thanksgiving!

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