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Second thoughts

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This past week I came across an article discussing Christmas in Zimbabwe, a country a country whose profound struggle against the effects of the global food crisis have been compounded by severe drought and the decisions of a tyrannical leader. And although the holiday season has come to a close, I thought that it was an apt piece to reflect on, particularly as we enter a new year.

When I first read the story I was particularly challenged by the way in which the author, Steve Scauzillo, juxtaposes the worries of families in Zimbabwe with his own family here in the United States. It makes a valid and important point about something most of us know, but rarely choose to think about: how well off we are.

And I’m guessing that if we are honest, each of us could add examples from our own lives to Scauzillo’s list. Families in Zimbabwe are wondering if they will have food to eat, while we are wondering if we will be able to eat what we want. We are wondering if we will get a job that pays enough for us to have a comfortable life down the road, and people in Zimbabwe are wondering if they will have life at all.

For me, the pivotal moment came when Scauzillo admitted that his research on Zimbabwe was causing him to think differently. After encouraging readers to do something to reach beyond themselves, he admits that he had begun to “have second thoughts about buying my oldest son that new cell phone.”

Simple as this passing comment seems, it is underscored by an important theme. If we stop and think about it, each of us could most likely come up with reasons that would justify the purchase of a phone for Scauzillo’s boy. After all, in America, almost everyone has a cell phone. And, after all, Scauzillo’s son may be in a situation where he needs the phone someday. Fair enough. The point is not to judge parents who buy cell phones for their children or to go off on a tangent about spoiled youth. In fact, the goal is not to judge anyone else but rather, to get us to look more intently at ourselves.

By having second thoughts about the cell phone, Scauzillo is questioning his own standard of living. And as we begin a new year, that is my goal as well. I want to constantly have second thoughts about the way that I live, to begin to ask if the choices I am making really make sense in light of the big picture. Are my purchases motivated by need or simply justified by whatever excuse I can come up with at the time? Am I making the best use of my time, or wasting it merely because that is what everyone else is doing?

By questioning my standard of living and the way I spend my time I hope that I will eventually get to the place where second thoughts become first thoughts—where I don’t look at life in the same way anymore. Second thoughts pave the way for a new way of living, and I think this kind of re-evaluation is what we are called to do. So, what’s my goal for 2009? It’s simple yet hopefully the execution of it will prove to be profound: I want to have second thoughts more often.

*Scauzillo’s article is hyperlinked above, or you can follow his link here:


Written by liferenewed

January 2, 2009 at 12:34 am

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