Links to Think

Links to Think: 14.03.31

March 31, 2014

14.03.31.ltt.

The Republic of Fear

I’ve just started reading The Locust Effect” Why the End of Poverty Requires the End of Violence, the author of which is referenced throughout this article. This article holds some good reminders that we can’t always offer solutions from our vastly different societal context without first attempting to understand the complexity of the situation we are attempting to address.

“If you’re reading this, you are probably not buffeted by daily waves of physical terror. You may fear job loss or emotional loss, but you probably don’t fear that somebody is going to slash your throat, or that a gang will invade your house come dinnertime, carrying away your kin and property. We take a basic level of order for granted.

But billions of people live in a different emotional landscape, enveloped by hidden terror. Many of these people live in the developing world.

When we send young people out to help these regions, we tell them they are there to tackle “poverty,” using the sort of economic designation we’re comfortable with. We usually assume that scarcity is the big challenge to be faced. We send them to dig wells or bring bed nets or distribute food or money, and, of course, that’s wonderful work.

But as Gary A. Haugen and Victor Boutros point out in their gripping and perspective-altering book, “The Locust Effect,” these places are not just grappling with poverty. They are marked by disorder, violence and man-inflicted suffering.

“The relentless threat of violence is part of the core subtext of their lives, but we are unlikely to see it, and they are unlikely to tell us about it. We would be wise, however, to not be fooled — because, like grief, the thing we cannot see may be the deepest part of their day.””

“We in the affluent world live on one side of a great global threshold. Our fundamental security was established by our ancestors. We tend to assume that the primary problems of politics are economic and that the injustices of the world can be addressed with economic levers. When empires like the Soviet Union collapse, we send in economists with privatization plans instead of cops to help create rule of law. When thuggish autocracies invade their neighbors we impose economic sanctions.

But people without our inherited institutions live on the other side of the threshold and have a different reality. They live within a contagion of chaos. They live where the primary realities include violence, theft and radical uncertainty. Their world is governed less by long-term economic incentives and more by raw fear. In a world without functioning institutions, predatory behavior and the passions of domination and submission blot out economic logic.”

When a Stay-At-Home Mom Needs Hired Help – Three months ago, I was juggling about ten things and feeling like I was still able to parent my three young children without a babysitter, putting them in nursery, Sunday School, or daycare. But I ached for the community of family nearby or for older women involved in my children’s lives even then. Fast forward to the present, and I’m feeling sick enough to bedridden two to three half-days a week, and am now struggling to juggle one or two things while still being a mom.

Years ago when we were planning to head to a third world mission field, an older missionary in a developed country lamented to me that she didn’t understand why so many missionary wives used house help and that she’d been able to get by just fine without help other than her husband’s. I wanted her approval desperately, and I tucked that little fact away, assuring myself that I’d never succumb to such things once we arrived to the mission field. Now, I realize I that I often do need help here in my first world life, and that God didn’t design us to practice motherhood alone.

This article resonated with me particularly at this time, because two weeks ago we hired someone to help as our “mother’s helper” for three hours on Monday mornings. While it’s not usually my hardest day of the week, the help is already helping me immensely in many areas. And part of that ache for raising my children as part of a family community is being healed. It is also my hope that one day, when I’m an older mom (or even in a different season of life than the present), I can come alongside moms of young children–my own or even strangers–and serve in the way that is vastly needed, as this article demonstrates:

“My name is Marie, and I’m a stay-at-home mom with three kids.

And hired help.

Months before the birth of our twins, my husband and I decided we would hire someone to help me care for the kids and manage our home. We knew everyone would be happier for it. I posted a question on a Facebook page set up for twin mothers, asking what hours of the day most moms of a toddler and twins found they would benefit from an extra pair of hands. The overwhelming response? You don’t need help. You can do it all by yourself.”

“We didn’t always treat mothers this way. The Daily Beast brings up how starting at birth, colonial Americans allowed mothers a “lying in” period, for new moms to rest and bond with their babies while other women kept up her household. That era has disappeared and not been replaced with anything, other than—if you’re lucky—a stream of delicious casseroles from neighbors and friends (thanks for those, by the way). The article went on to say”

“This “you can do it” form of “encouragement” also echoes our culture’s overwhelming rejection of help, hired or not, and pervasive sense of pride. I don’t need any help. I can do it all on my own. Isn’t this attitude the antithesis of the Christian life? The very core of our faith is that we cannot gain admittance to heaven based on our works alone. In the same way, we cannot attain parental perfection by pure solitary effort, no matter what society expects.”

“The pressure to do it all is even stronger in Christian circles. After all, children are a gift from God. It is our responsibility to guide and train them in the way they should go, to keep our homes, to manage our households and not be idle, and to do so with joy. How dare we shirk any of these God-given responsibilities?

As Christians, we might argue that struggling to parent on our own while juggling all our household responsibilities builds perseverance and reliance upon God for strength. And it can. But all this self-sufficiency can also feed our pride and rob us of the opportunity to develop humility and reliance upon our Christian community. Granted, not everyone can afford to hire help, but everyone can ask for it and accept it when it is offered. Everyone can support others’ desire for assistance and refrain from dismissing the needs of those moms who choose to hire help or get help from family or friends.”

The Power of Empathy – A great short video on empathy vs. sympathy

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