I don’t make New Year’s resolutions, but I am making a public pledge and I invite others join me. During 2012, I’m donating 10% of my income (net) to charities, individuals in need, and artistic endeavors. At least half of the funds are earmarked for groups, organizations, and individuals in my religious community. I don’t make a ton of money. Most of you don’t make a ton of money. I’ll definitely feel the pinch. I also pledge to volunteer 10% of my time, 4 hours a week, to groups and organizations that need another pair of hands.
I’m doing this out of need.
The world is in desperate need of help and while I can’t help the world, I can donate to a food shelf and feed one person for a week. I can donate supplies to artists so they can make a living and create beauty and truth. I can spend a few hours editing a website for an understaffed non-profit or planting seeds in a community garden. I can’t help everyone, but I can wash sheets in a homeless shelter. So can you.
Our religious communities need us to step up and demonstrate our support. My mother advised me to judge what people hold dear by what they do, not by what they say. My religious community is important to me which is why I specify half of the money and time I donate goes to Heathen, Pagan, and polytheist groups, projects, and individuals. According to the book Voices from the Pagan Census 67% of Pagans give less than $250per year to their religion – 28% give nothing. The median income for Pagans is between 30,000 and 40,000, which is on par with the general population. Most of us have funds to donate and if we don’t, we have time and talent. The question is if our religious community is a priority for us, and if so, will our actions reflect that.
I am in dire spiritual need for the opportunity to act on my values. “We give that You may give” is an ancient saying which sums up the relationship between man and the divine. It isn’t a bribe, but a spiraling relationship built on mutual respect and love. Donating my energy, either directly through my actions or indirectly through money, is an opportunity for me to share, rather than an obligation to give. What the Gods have given me, I give to others. What I give to others, the Gods give to me. The great cycle I refuse pretend I’m not a part of. Giving is good for my heart as it thrives on daily acts of generosity. I crave more generosity in my life, don’t you? Donating my time helping my neighbors is a reminder that money is not the only way to happiness. It keeps me sane to embody an ethos very different from our very dominant monetary economy. The gently subversive quality of working in a soup kitchen or mending clothes at a shelter helps me keep my values straight. Isn’t that what you deeply desire in your life, too?
Not everyone can give 10% of their income or spend 10% of their time (0f a 40 hour work week). Please take care of your own families first. I’m also not advocating people give everything away and live in sackcloth and ashes – that’s not from our mythos! I don’t see wealth as something evil, but our wealth has outpaced our generosity. We live in a world that says too much is never enough. Instead of We give that You may give – we want that we may want still more. Enough really is enough. Unless we learn that, we will never be satisfied ourselves. And we will never know the joy that comes from letting go. We let go so others may have.
If you can, consider giving what you can, when and wherever your heart feels inspired. If you want to join me in pledging 10% of your income and 10% of your time, great! Just want to do one or the other? Perfect. Can’t do a specific percentage? Not a problem. Do what you can, when you can. That’s all any of us can do.
I hope your Solstice was bright, the omens for your year propitious, and that 2012 brings us joy.