Signs and Wonders

Is it a warning or a cry for help?

Things look bad, some say.

Others insist everything’s been done before, it’s all cyclic, we survived the Great Depression we’ll survive this, etc.

For many of us addicted to the 24/7 news feed, the signature tune of this dawning century, it’s hard to find hope. Unless you turn away from your TV, step away from the computer, recycle your newspaper and look to the sky.

There, the clouds roll by, as they have for millennia. The sun rises, shines and sets, as it is wont to do. If you live around here, rain comes with the territory. But never so much rain that we have to flee to higher ground, except for the few who choose to live along the rivers. Sometimes our decisions affect our lives. Other times, our lives take shape due to forces and decisions far removed from our sight or control.

The disturbingly unsettled economic miasma currently oppressing much of the planet came about through the machinations of a tiny portion of the population who, having much already, decided that having more would be even better. For them.

Now, as the rest of us struggle to readjust the balance, it’s important to remember that for a huge segment of the world’s population having almost nothing is the norm. They don’t have Black Friday sales in Uganda, for instance, where an entire country was decimated by the ruinous misrule of a corrupt leader for decades.

War, terrorism and civil unrest are inevitable until we can wipe out hunger on the planet. It’s a huge goal. So huge most of us give up after a few attempts to make a dent in the wall of indifference. But for this very reason, the small successes of determined efforts by various international aid organizations should be celebrated and honored.

Heifer International offers a chance to give a life-changing gift to the poorest people on the planet. As the holiday season bears down upon us here in the land of good and plenty, it’s worth considering. If instead of lining up on the day after Thanksgiving we sat out Black Friday and put just a fraction aside for those far less fortunate than the activists who can afford to wear Gore-Tex while protesting the iniquities of Wall Street, it might signal a turn in the tide.

Sure, it wouldn’t change the whole world overnight. But stranger things have happened from small beginnings.

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