When my grandmother was in her early 70s, her children and grandchildren quickly learned that something wasn't quite right. My grandfather had recently passed away and my grandmother was living alone in her house in Charlottetown. When we went to visit her, we were never sure if she would recognize us.
Imagine a life where a saucepan is your most treasured resource. Where having access to a single a garden hoe can make a world of difference to your family's livelihood. Where that family consists of several orphaned grandchildren, many of whom are HIV positive. And you, an elderly grandmother, are their only hope for survival.
Our world has some incredible non-profit organizations that are working to solve some of the greatest challenges of our time. Unfortunately many of these organizations are not equipped to effectively articulate their story to the public, potential donors and supporters, thought leaders, and politicians.
Some 31,000 women are currently pregnant inside the Islamic State. These children born out of conflict will form the future ranks of the group. School curriculum is being altered and reshaped to support extremism and strict adherence to the Islamic State's view of religion and philosophy. Children are desensitized to violence and trained for combat from an early age. This presents a complex, yet vitally important, challenge for any nations engaged with the Islamic State.
This desire to 'do good' without any financial reward might help explain why the number of Canadians taking advantage of charitable tax credits plummeted from 29.5 to 21.9 per cent from 1990 to 2013, and why under six million people claim the federal Charitable Donation Tax Credit each year despite the fact that about 24 million of us (about 85 per cent of Canadians) make an annual financial donation to charity.
As Martin Luther King Jr. saw it, to those living on the margins of our communities, acts of charity and compassion should be our very first response to meet the need. But then there is the next stage. What caused it? Who is responsible? How can we change things at their source so that acts of charity are not as required as those where we help those who begin to find their footing?
The Trudeau government seemingly called off the CRA from harassing Canada's charities on January 20. Well, not really, in fact. The Trudeau government's timidity so far in fixing this abuse of power by the previous government will probably result in some of Canada's most popular and important charities heading toward decertification and oblivion.
Without money, it would be nearly impossible for food banks to provide clients with a healthy dinner plate. That's because essentials like pasta, soup and beans pour in, while equally important items like fresh produce, meat and dairy items are in shorter supply. Financial donations create flexibility.
It's just a small, white envelope stuck among the branches of our Christmas tree. No name, no identification, no inscription. It has peeked through the branches of our tree for the past ten years or so. It all began because my husband Mike hated Christmas -- oh, not the true meaning of Christmas, but the commercial aspects of it -- overspending...Knowing he felt this way, I decided one year to bypass the usual shirts, sweaters, ties and so forth. I reached for something special just for Mike. The inspiration came in an unusual way.
When was the exact moment that Christmas became synonymous with buying stuff I do not know, but it seems that we've reached a point of gifting no-return. The idea of simply spending Christmas with your family without the obligatory spending and consumption is not even a possibility. If you're an average person living in a Western nation you can be pretty confident that your intended gift-receiver already has everything he or she needs and most likely lives a year where their other superfluous wants are often met.
There is much commonality between religions in urging us to overcome our attachments to money, property and the material, to give generously of ourselves in as many ways as possible, and to realize that nothing is ours. In many ways, it's a call to overcome our selfish nature and to realize our deep interconnectedness with each other and all of creation.