It's odd to me that we spend a day giving thanks for what is precious, and then the very next morning our culture is all set up for Black Friday (which sounds grim even though I guess it's not meant to be)....where we are all meant to rush out as early as we can and as maniacally as we can to BUY things. So we were grateful for one day, for all those intangibles, but then the very next day this American culture is telling us: better get ready to WANT all the things you don't have, that you wish you had! Kind of ironic, right?

I hope access to people through technology will bring us much closer to the lives and stories of people from all around the world, and so we can pause for a moment and just think: what is important? What is really going to rescue this world from despair, from economic downturns that crush people? It's not going to be running into a WalMart and literally crushing someone (which happened in New York on Friday). It can't be.

Instead, what if it were us listening to a story told by a teacher in Kenya, a story of her life in a small rural village, and coming into the city of Nairobi to teach in a school for HIV/AIDS orphans, and how she comes to love these children and how she teaches them how to read and write and laugh again.

What if it were that?

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I'm with you, Pam. One of the silver linings of economic downturns is how we are more likely to look outward when things are hard. It may be counter-intuitive, but I think what happens is that it forces us off the selfish track.

I, too, found it ironic that our economic woes are the result of believing that a borrow-and-spend "consumerism" culture was actually fiscally sound--and yet, at the same time somehow believing that increased holiday sales would be a good thing instead of people saving their money.

Not to turn this topic sideways, but I've been wondering at the impact of ubiquitous and immediate information in our lives. Are we really prepared for it--meaning, are our brains wired to understand it? I don't think so. We're safer than we've ever been, but because we can see news stories of a child abduction half a world away, we feel our children are less safe playing outside. We demand immediate financial results from companies that should be building for the long term. We expect politicians to respond to in the same way. Just because it's possible to get information this fast doesn't mean that it's good for us. I'm very curious to see how we figure this out. I guess I'm hoping that we figure it out...

At the same time, I do believe that the ability for email and the Web to allow us to build project around our passions, without requiring the infrastructure building and costs that previously kept us from doing many things, will lead to voluntarily working on things we love--and often choosing them over financial rewards.

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