Wednesday, March 31, 2010

People, Not Money

My parents always tried to tell me that money doesn't work always in making the most significant changes. I didn't understand this except as a truism that 'money isn't everything'- it was perhaps the way they meant it. But I'm convinced of this truth every day.

I'm convinced that human commitment working in a community is the single biggest conduit to any kind of significant event- economic progress, social redemption, witness to faith, education, reduction in crime and so on. There are too many proofs out there, the latest of which is in a story carried by yesterday's New York Times, titled 'City Will Stop Paying the Poor for Good Behavior.'


The three-year-old pilot project, the first of its kind in the country, gave parents payments for things like going to the dentist ($100) or holding down a full-time job ($150 per month). Children were rewarded for attending school regularly ($25 to $50 per month) or passing a high school Regents exam ($600).

When the mayor announced the program, he said it would begin with private money and, if it worked, could be transformed into an ambitious permanent government program.

Clearly this did not work. Of course, this is not to say that private or public money should not work for social redemption, but perhaps the way to progress is by educating those who have rather than pushing money into those who have not. In a Sara Groves interview, accessible here, she mentions that IJM does precisely this.


So, for me, as a stay at home mom - a mobile stay at home mom ... a bus bound stay at home mom (laugh), IJM doesn't just want my money. They say, "You, stay at home mom, you are an abolitionist. Your kids are student abolitionists." And to me, that's empowering. They don't just want my money, they want to educate me about justice - about advocacy, and about worldview - about God's heart for the poor. So, I am fired up! I feel like I have found my place in this world when I met IJM - as far as something I can get behind with all my heart, support. It's just an incredible organization and move of God.

Again in the case of artists like Bono who by his own admission, uses his celebrity as a currency to enable himself to do what he does in Africa for HIV/AIDS, the key to his appeal is getting through to more and more people. The best things in life truly are free, but certainly not cheap.

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