Thoughts on Cleaning Out the Closet

The box containing turkey-shaped salt and pepper shakers had been sitting in the back of the cabinet for . . . eight years? Ten? I have no idea who gave them to me.  I think someone believed I would see humor in receiving turkey shakers because I had not eaten turkey or any other animal since before the turn of the century.

But the point here isn’t turkey; the point is STUFF. It’s the season for cleaning out the basement, attic, or other dark corner where unwanted items are lurking out of the way, gathering dust.  I know because I see the evidence all over my neighborhood — everyone is piling up stuff for pickup by a local organization, or holding garage sales, or simply loading it into the garbage. We all have so much stuff.

Now that the season of giving is approaching, it’s time to ask, what do we really want? A tie suspiciously similar to the one we gave cousin Jim only two years ago?  An appliance that just clutters up the kitchen counter? Novelty tableware? Or maybe we want to feel a little better about the wider world, to think that things may be improving in a resource-poor community because of us, our friends and loved ones.

Maybe we’d enjoy the holidays more with a less-daunting pile of gifts – and the knowledge that children with asthma in Bolivia were able to have nebulizer treatments because of us. That a mother in Lilongwe, Malawi, had a successful emergency c-section because of a decision we made.

If we are all connected, it isn’t stuff that unites us, it’s our basic human needs and wants – clean air and water, healthcare when we are sick, delivering a thriving baby because prenatal care and safe delivery conditions are available.

This holiday season, your own loved ones might appreciate knowing that you made a donation in their honor to an organization that really does improve the level of healthcare in underserved communities. Maybe a small gift to open (some very clever turkey shakers), in addition to a card from Global Links announcing your donation, would make a nice gift-giving tradition. Receiving a card like that in your own honor might make you feel good for much longer than one more piece of hardware that quickly becomes obsolete.

Because when we think about what we really want, I imagine we are united in our desire for things to get better. Everywhere. It’s like that old Beauty Pageant joke, when the contestant says that all she wants is world peace. We all want that. We really do. And we can get there, if we can get our priorities straight.

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