Archive for the ‘charity’ tag
by Jahnabi Barooah
from The Huffington Post
This week’s Faith Inspires highlights the work of Hindu American Seva Charities (HASC), an organization whose mission is to engage in “seva, interfaith collaboration, pluralism, social justice and sustainable civic engagement to ignite grassroots social change and build healthy communities.” Seva, which means “service” in Sanskrit, is an important aspect of the Dharmic traditions, which include Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism.
In 2009, when President Barack Obama issued a “call to serve,” Anju Bhargava, a Hindu American resident of Livingston, NJ, was appointed to the President’s Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. HASC is a result of that collaboration, and was designed to strengthen and put a spotlight on civic engagement and community service efforts in the Dharmic community.
Despite the White House’s support and guidance, HASC did not have the easiest start, and their success over the past two years can be attributed as much to creative theological thinking, as to the Dharmic community’s desire to be fully accepted in the American community.
“The Hindu community didn’t have a faith-based infrastructure [to perform community service],” Anju Bhargava, the founder of the HASC told The Huffington Post. Even though many Hindus were engaging in community service through informal means, Hindus did not have access to sustainable community service programs that were faith-based. If the goal was to bring seva to the forefront and make it relevant in the American context, the challenge was that the Hindu-American community was so fragmented because of its varied religious and philosophical beliefs, Bhargava told The Huffington Post.
by Katherine Marshall
from Huffington Post
Marley’s ghost, in Charles Dickens’ great moral parable, The Christmas Carol, reflected in anguish on what, beyond the grave, he finally understood to have been his core moral obligation in life: “Mankind was my business. The common welfare was my business; charity, mercy, forbearance, and benevolence, were all my business. The dealings of my trade were but a drop of water in the comprehensive ocean of my business!”
“Bah, humbug”, responded Ebenezer Scrooge, Marley’s partner in life. So Marley pursued his plan to awaken Scrooge to the realities of need and to tug on his deeply latent conscience. Finally when one of the three Spirits who visits Scrooge by night confronts him with two pathetic children, a vestige of moral sense begins to stir. Asked whose they are, the Spirit answers that they are Man’s. “This boy is Ignorance. This girl is Want. Beware them both, and all of their degree, but most of all beware this boy, for on his brow I see that written which is Doom, unless the writing be erased.”
Just as Marley and his Spirits exhorted Scrooge to confront the realities of poverty and his responsibility to help, we also are confronted during this end of the year holiday season with appeals to our conscience. They come, thick and fast, framed as frantic pleas for help or as generous offers or gentle reminders to contribute to a cause. Each day the mail, phone, and email deliver an extraordinary range of requests to support causes that respond to the urgent needs of our community. The urgent tone of the appeals seem all the more poignant at this time when the “Bah, humbug” Scrooge-style response seems to need seems to have gripped America’s public debate.
The tugs of conscience and appeals for charitable donations call to mind moral values deeply rooted in spiritual teachings. Perhaps the strongest common ground that links the world’s great faith traditions is the call to compassion, to fight precisely Dickens’ ghostly images of ignorance and want. Charitable giving has deep spiritual roots in history. Even in today’s far more pluralistic and secular world, the appeal to spiritual values evokes both the nobility of mankind’s capacity to care and the shame of turning one’s back to those in need. Even the very wealthy, who give less to explicitly religious causes, see religion as key to transmitting their own commitment to charity to their offspring.
What does lead people to give to charity? And what evokes responsibility and caring as Americans look to the nation’s responsibilities towards the world? As always in such matters, the answers are complicated and there is much we do not really understand. But a recent public opinion survey offers evidence of how far values linked to religious teachings do color attitudes towards the broadest policy issues. And it also offers encouraging signs that the appeals to conscience resonate with most Americans. That people respond to an appeal to their better nature echoes long-standing evidence that charitable giving is highest among those who count themselves as believers. What is of particular interest here, however, is the degree to which religious and spiritual values color attitudes to issues that tend to be debated in more technocratic terms.
As we enter into the final days and hours before the Parliament of Religions in Melbourne, Australia, we would like to take some time to reflect on the work ahead. The 2009 Parliament will be ripe with challenge and promise and we will engage this opportunity by considering the interreligious movement as a whole. We are happy to share this series of five articles to help attendees prepare for their Parliament experience.
Our fourth article is written by Kim Bobo and is titled Ending Poverty: Real Questions for the Interfaith Community. Bobo affirms the interreligious impulse to combat poverty, but contrasts individual acts of charity with the difficult and often controversial problems of systemic poverty. Her article is a call to an authentic and ambitious response to poverty, and addresses how this can be achieved at the Parliament of Religions.
Kim Bobo is the Executive Director of Interfaith Worker Justice and is the former Director of Organizing for the organization Bread for the World. She is the author of Lives Matter: A Handbook for Christian Organizing and Wage Theft in America: Why Millions of Working Americans Are Not Getting Paid – And What We Can Do About It, and co-author of Organizing for Social Change. She writes a column for the online magazine Religion Dispatches. Please read her full article here.