Sunday, April 11, 2021

Life Lately - Who Can You Support This Week?

DMX and Prince Phillip. Photo credit: Getty Images.

Two famous men died on Friday. Prince Phillip, a 99-year-old British royal, died after a long and full life. DMX, a 50-year-old American rapper, died sooner than most people would like. The Prince was born into Greek and Danish royalty and married the British monarch. DMX suffered abuse as a child and turned to stray dogs for companionship after leaving home aged 14. The Prince’s gaffes made their way around the world. DMX’s music set records and inspired a generation. Their lives couldn’t have been more different, but they both left marks on the world. May their souls rest in peace.

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There has been an outpouring of good DMX stories on Twitter. I read through some of them and it’s clear he wasn’t just a celebrity acting nice. He was warm, welcoming, and didn’t think of himself as above his fans. It got me thinking about this line from the hymn Only Remembered, “only remembered by what we have done”.

There is an endless list of things that people do and are remembered for, but I wanted to focus on generosity today because I’ve been thinking about it for weeks. Specifically, I’ve been thinking about generosity in the context of sharing our time and material resources with people who are less privileged than we are.

I was recently talking to a friend who wants to start a library for children in Ibadan when she’s rich. She thinks that’ll be in another decade or so. My challenge to her was two-fold: how do you know that you’ll still be here in another decade? And if you are here then, how do you know the conditions will be better than they are now? Is there a way you can donate books to an existing library or refurbish a reading room for children while working towards your longer-term vision?

Many people who read this blog are privileged, even if you don’t feel so all the time. I am privileged and I don’t feel so all the time too. I am convinced we have a moral and spiritual obligation to share that privilege with people who are not as privileged. I also believe in starting now, where you are, and with what you have.

One challenge I face with my giving is trying to decide where it will have the most utility. These are often tough choices with no easy answers. Should I give some money to a struggling family from my local church or contribute it to a medical-costs-GoFundMe for a sick friend from university? Sometimes it’s very clear in my spirit what I should do. Other times it’s a judgment call and I try to make a logical decision. I think this is an important part of giving too – directing your resources where they’ll have the most value.

As you look to the coming week, please ask yourself – who can you support this week? How can you serve?

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What I’m currently reading: Make Time by Jake Knapp and John Zeratsky, writers and designers who once worked at Google. The book aims to help readers identify and focus on the most important things every day, hopefully resulting in a fulfilling and less stressed life. They write about choosing ONE highlight for each day, creating the attentional space to focus on its execution, and managing your energy levels. I picked it up after my post two weeks ago describing my unending workload. I also finished Lola Shoneyin’s The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives this week and I thoroughly enjoyed it!

What I’m currently listening to: I liked Useful Delusions from the Hidden Brain podcast. Based on Shankar’s book of the same title, the hosts talk about how self-deceptions can bind together marriages, communities, and even entire nations. It’s only 50 minutes long and is a good way to get the gist of the book.

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Cheers to the new week.

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