Friday, November 13, 2009

What do we stand for?

Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel said, "To be is to stand for something". One of the many quests of our lives is to find that thing for which we stand. Almost a week after our Day of Interfaith Youth Service, I have been thinking a lot about this group and what we value in our mission and how we can extent these values above and beyond this Stanford community. How awesome it was to have a group of college students get together to serve the greater good (especially when Stanford football was playing!) and to share the experience of having personal interactions with those we were helping was really quite powerful.

At Sacred Heart during our volunteer introduction, the coordinator mentioned that last year the organization served 3,300 families. This year, due to the economic troubles, they would be serving 4,000 families. On average, each of the families I registered had three children and two adults. If that were to be true for each family, that is 20,000 people who would have not had enough to eat at their holiday table, or maybe could not afford toys for their children at Christmas. The sheer numbers were astonishing to think about. The 20,000 people we helped register live in about 12 zip codes in California, and is certainly not indicative of all the people who need assistance. In our discussion afterwards, Anand prompted, "Why is it that in the wealthiest country in the world, we have so many people who still go hungry?". This is a very important question, but seems so daunting. There are so many infrastructural, educational, socio-economic problems that would need to be dealt with in order to answer that question; however, I think an equally important question (although perhaps easier to answer) is "How can we use what influence, power, funds, or resources we do have to make a difference in the lives of others?". This, is one reason I am drawn to F.A.I.T.H. Each religion has its own history of feeding the hungry, and clothing the naked, and it's own customs for hospitality. It is in recognition of this solidarity in thinking that unites us together and makes us stronger. It is in this way that we can, in Heschel's words, "be" and stand for something.

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