Activism is a Form of “Voluntary” Tithing: What does it look like for you?

Image result for earthAlthough I don’t always experience it this way, Albert Einstein’s famous prodding us to think that the world might be a “friendly” place can be helpful in challenging times, especially when the calls for action are many. (There are so many areas of need announcing themselves on my Facebook feed it feels a little like “whack-a-mole!”)

But I’ve been thinking about how to do this…how to stay responsible to the world I live in. How do I continue to show up and contribute to the good?  To this “friendly universe?”

It is a fact (and there’s nothing alternative about it!) that I am blessed with much good fortune. I live in a beautiful place, I am a free citizen, I never lack for my basic needs and frankly have much much more than that; my only problems are problems of abundance.

So I’ve begun to reflect on “giving” and consider my responses to these calls for action as voluntary “tithing” – dedicating a certain portion of my time, talent, and treasure to causes that don’t directly benefit me, but do benefit others in need. What I like about the idea of tithing (in tradition, it refers to a yearly “tax” equal to 10% of your “treasure” — whether coinage or in-kind) is that it forces me to think about how much I am giving and to whom.  Am I giving enough given what I have? Am I giving a sensible balance of time, talent, and treasure that doesn’t harm my household or my business? ( I’m looking forward to Vicki Robin’s update of “Your Money or Your Life” to come out later this year.) And while some of my giving is to my church or favorite art museum, am I also giving to important causes where I really don’t have a personal benefit?

The truth is, even when I give to causes that don’t directly benefit me, for example by supporting an organization that serves the health care needs of young women, or builds affordable housing units, or feeds pipeline protesters the next state over…I do get at least one benefit. I contribute to my sense that the universe is benevolent.  When I respond with my money, my body, my brains to support calls to action I’m less anxious as a result and can continue on. That makes me more effective in all aspects of my life. And that’s a good thing.