I just want to take a moment to share another infographic that was sent to me, this one on how poverty affects the brain (source: http://www.socialworkdegreecenter.com/poverty/). Although this is a US-oriented graphic, these same principles apply to Canadians experiencing poverty as well. (Thanks to Claire Quiney for sending this to me.)
Of course we should be mindful, year-round, of those living without the basic necessities of life. During the holiday season, however, when the cultural norm is to spend wads of money on unnecessary gifts for individuals who already have basic necessities of life (and more), we should be especially mindful of those who are struggling to survive without these bare necessities. Now I realize it’s late in the Christmas shopping season, but I have a suggestion for anyone (and any family) interested in changing how you give gifts in order to make a meaningful difference in the lives of others. The suggestion is this: when suggesting a gift for yourself to others, ask them to donate money to a charity of your choice. In your family or with your significant other, each person would identify a charity, and then others would donate the money they would have spent on a gift to that charity in your name.
Aside from the obvious benefit of getting money and resources to individuals and organizations in need, this approach also reduces the millions of tons of commercial waste we generate every year. There’s no wrapping, no packaging…nothing to throw away! Another benefit to you (and your mental health!) is that you won’t have to set foot in a mall and take part in the Christmas shopping gong show. Of course, knowing that you’ve made a difference in the lives of others is something you can feel good about.
All the best to you and your loved ones this holiday season and in the New Year. Take care of yourselves and each other.