Home > Thoughts > Doesn’t Miss America Want to Save the World Anymore?

Doesn’t Miss America Want to Save the World Anymore?

My primary development occurred up through the 90s. Sure, there were West and East coast rivalries, the murders of Biggie and Tupac, an obsession with the danger of dial-up predators, a philandering President Bill Clinton, and an unforgettable white Bronco owned by one OJ Simpson.  THAT is NOT how I remember my childhood though.  Maybe I had the rose-colored glasses of a naivety or an effectively protective set of parents, but those major events did not shade my introduction to the world.  The early 90s weren’t just about infamy and crime.  They also boasted the notoriety of Mother Theresa, the founding of the breast cancer pink ribbon, songs like MMMBop, the success of the D.A.R.E program, and of course, the unforgettable rise of Oprah’s empire.  I remember there being a time when people wanted to grow up like role models that change the world for the positive.  There was an innovative and dominant sense of altruism.  The Gates’ were adored for their philanthropy and America was proud to have the means to be generous to those in need both domestically and abroad.  Lately, these stories seem to be fewer and far between in favor of YouTube innovation.  Did I miss the trend change while I was abstaining from mainstream media, along with thousands of US Weekly issues and ET episodes?

These days, the dominant culture seems to have shifted along with our economy, tightening our helping hands along with our wallets.  Is it fear and fall out from 9/11 and the subsequent international ‘scuffles’ we’ve gotten into after the fact?  Are we numb to the stories of global warming and desensitized to the many Penny-a-Day commercials to help a child abroad?  Has apathy set in post hanging chad controversy?    Maybe it is our surmounting deficit.  We all just might know a few too many people we want home safe and employed, thus shifting our focus onto ourselves instead of the public.  Either way the desire for altruism seems to be waning in the collective conscience.  With future-focused organizations like TED in the minority and Rich Ross worship in the majority,  altruistic aspirations are slinking into the dusty corners of mediocrity and self-serving obesity is becoming an epidemic.

How do we get altruism off the endangered list as its natural habitat of the Church declines and is replaced with industrialist culture?

I’ve never been a particularly religious person, though moderately spiritual.  I believe it is arrogant to subscribe to any human interpretation or construction of the divine so I prefer to just stay out of it.  However, I can’t deny that Church is like Weight Watchers for the natural human tendency to serve the self.  It is a weekly meeting/routine/program that encourages you to step out of yourself and help your neighbors.  It teaches you different ways to lose some of those fleshy pounds of selfishness and control consumption, in favor of healthier activities like the local soup kitchen.  It has a support system built around a community of people that encourage you to stick to generosity and that struggle with it, too (or it is supposed to).  With the rising number of priest molestation cases, I’m not encouraging anyone to revive the Church or religion, but I do wonder if we need a new program/format to keep us balanced so we don’t slip into doing whatever we want.

We could take a cue from the First Lady Obama and implement some new principles.  Like the Health Starts Here program Whole Foods employs, we could fight the gain of a selfish bubble with lifestyle choices.  Rather than an unreasonable protein-rich, carb-free Atkins style diet that is decency-rich, but magnanimity-free, we could start to incorporate better choices into our daily lives.  Instead of a free for all of individualistic burgers, apathy fries, and shopping brownies, we might need to live by a new altruistic rich balance.  Following the Whole Foods format, I’ve jotted a few points we should start to incorporate.

1) Whole Foods – Whole Efforts

How much would it hurt your schedule to take an entire and complete hour out of your month to volunteer?  I’m not suggesting you spend a prohibitive amount of time out at the Food Bank or the Senior Center, but something besides dropping off those clothes you didn’t want, anyway.  An activity that requires dedication can bring you fulfillment and also make a direct and visible impact.

2) Plant Strong – Heart Strong

Shopping for red bottoms and NBA gear is fun and its going to happen, but spending that time purely on possessions takes time away from time spent on heart-centered activities.  Try redefining some of your pleasures by making them heart centered.  Instead of shopping for yourself, shop for a friend or acquaintance that may need a little something to boost them up during a hard week or shop for something different altogether like the next non-profit you’re going to volunteer with or beautiful and practical housewares for a Habitat For Humanity family.

3) Nutrient Dense – Generosity Dense

In the diet world, they talk a lot about empty calories.  There are a lot of things we do that simply have no effect.  No, they don’t hurt anyone, but no they don’t help anyone either.  Focus on generosity to get yourself out of lukewarm decency.  Skip that next season of True Blood and give that hour to friends and family each week.  Call your niece or write a postcard to your cousins who have been busy with their new baby.  Take it to the next level and spend some time every month parting with things you haven’t used, want to replace, or don’t plan to use next season.  No reason old stuff has to sit in the basement or garage for 5 years before you dump it all.   

4) Healthy Fats – Healthy Thoughtfulness

And it all comes back to balance.  Going out of your way to help people can sound like a jump when you’ve got your own to take care of.  Just as healthy fats can be good for you, so can a healthy amount of  thoughtfulness.  Don’t go overboard.  Take care of yourself and your own AND others.  Taking care of yourself and others can be as simple as giving your friend a day off from motherhood by taking her daughter to get a mani/pedi.  You get your overdue nails done, your friend will appreciate the time off, and the daughter will have a real life role model to counter some of the distant Kardashian idolatry.

These are just a few ways I am suggesting you can shift your balance back from eating your heart’s content of what’s being served (glorification of image and wealth) and take back control over your community by providing for your neighbors.  It doesn’t matter if you have red bottoms, if you have a colorless heart.

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