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Moving our wealth around

July 3, 2012

We have just finished moving and it was not pretty.  How we can possibly have so much stuff is a mystery to me—I don’t think of myself or my family as being particularly acquisitive but we clearly are.  Bags upon boxes upon bags have been taken to shelters and thrift shops and the eco-centre.  A truly distressing amount has simply found its way into the recycling truck or, worse yet, the garbage truck.  And we still have piles of boxes full of things we’re keeping!  So. Much. Stuff.

It has meant, however, that our penny bank is filling up at a rapid rate as we uncover pennies behind the furniture, lost in drawers, and under cushions.

Collecting pennies to help provide lunches for kids in Haiti as we make an exhaustive inventory of our excess wealth has provided an uncomfortable but valuable reality check.  As we have been trying to explain to our son, rich is relative and, as soon as we expand our horizon even a little bit, we realize that we are indeed rich by the standards of the world.  We’ve been doing a lot of talking about wealth and the importance of giving generously to help other people who are not as fortunate as we are but it’s a tricky topic.

Kids notice inconsistency with distressing consistency.  One day, in the midst of all this talk and work, I did not give change to a panhandler.  My son, who was with me, called me out.  I found myself in the uncomfortable position of having to rationalize my essentially irrational choice out loud to a four year old—who could see through my attempts with the most casual of glances.

This is, I believe, one of the greatest gifts of parenting.  My son pushes me, just by being alive, to live with more attention and more integrity.  Or at least, to try to.

And I may never move again

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