Perspective. It can be so daunting…and challenging.
Most of the time we don’t want to ‘waste’ time on perspective. It means seeing all sides of an issue, and working to see our world through a different lens. Sometimes that lens can be disturbing and haunting. Other times it can be a glimpse into God’s Kingdom and that can be overwhelming. However, God calls us to experience more by seeing the world through a different set of eyes.
In the United States basic needs have a very different definition than say…Haiti. It all does come back to how we define our terms. I know plenty of teenagers that would define basic needs on whether or not they have an iPhone. I also know plenty of teenagers that would define it based on a roof over their head (including running water, toilets, etc.), clean water, clothes to wear and education.
In Haiti, basic needs are not the American standard. Basic needs are basic. Water. Food. Clothing. Sometimes not even all of those at once, and then toilets in general are most certainly not the same as what Americans are accustomed to in the States, while education can be too expensive to fall under a basic need.
Do definitions of basic needs put cultures in hierarchy with each other?
No. Adamantly, no.
Unfortunately that is not always the opinion of everyone in the world, or we would see more beauty in living a more simple life and less of an emphasis on materialism.
As Americans most of the time we make cultures feel inferior based on our thinking that everyone should live the way we live. What are we telling the world when we insist that our way is the best way? Especially when our perspective is so much different regarding the majority world. What gives us the right to think we are the standard that everyone should measure up to?
Do we even consider what it does when we choose a place to ‘raise their standard of living,’ yet create a hierarchy in a community where it did not previously exist. Or worse…make parents look at an orphanage and feel like their child would be better off if they were dead?
Sometimes our best intentions on what a basic need is contradicts in a cultural context, but to assuage our guilt of what we have, we press forward with what we think is right.
But God measures things differently as well, and his measure is based on his Kingdom being restored. The things that we consider life not complete without will melt into nothing…and we won’t even notice.
What would happen if we asked God to open our eyes to a new perspective?
What would happen if we considered surrendering all to him in order to gain a broader world perspective? Would we want it, and if so, would be keep it? Would we honor him with it?
It all comes back to definitions of your perspective and the American definition of ‘basic needs’ completely contradicts how the majority world would define it. Let that mess with you a bit this week as you seek God’s heart during lent…
Also, check out my blogging community during this Lent adventure:
2 thoughts on “basic needs”
There are a few people I know that I’d like to forward this post to, even if it did fall on deaf ears. Thank you for reminding us all that we are no better than other cultures just because we do things differently. Can’t wait for more of your Haiti perspective!
I knew I was going to enjoy reading this even more, especially when you got beyond “borders.” Thanks for creating words that make me think.