This year will mark 70 years from the liberation of Auschwitz. In order to commemorate this important event I organized a showing of the 1993 Academy Award winning movie Schindler’s List at my church. For those of you who don’t know the movie, it tells the story of Oskar Schindler, a German industrialist who was credited for saving the lives of over one thousand Jews. The powerful thing about this movie is that it shows just how much of a difference one person can make. At the end of the movie, there is this incredible scene where Schindler looks at his car and says, “This car. Goeth would have bought this car. Why did I keep the car? Ten people right there. Ten people. Ten more people.”  The regret one feels for not doing enough doesn’t compare with the regret one would have for not doing anything at all. I think the important thing is to just do something because for that one person it could make a world of difference.
In 2012 the bank gave me money to buy a brand new car. I bought a brand new Hyundai Tucson. I loved that car! It was so beautiful!! I loved everything about it. Late last year I preached a sermon and challenged my congregation with this question, “Is your lifestyle a good representation of what you claim to believe about God?” As I was preaching, all I could think about was my car. I loved it so much, but it didn’t fit with what I believe that God requires of us as his followers. This car did not represent my faith… so I traded it in for a much smaller, better for creation Hyundai. It was soo hard! And, I really miss my Tucson, but by making this decision I felt like I was living in line with my conviction. I know that one car doesn’t make a world of difference, but it makes a difference in my life and in my faith.
Reading through Active Hope this week I was reminded and encouraged again that each person matters. Every decision we make matters. Active hope is about taking small and intentional steps towards living with integrity and living in such a way that you put first things first. It’s about making changes where you are. It’s about choosing to live with your eyes open and doing your part as small as it might be.
This is the most important thing that I take away from this book…. “The path of seeking material wealth beyond our basic needs sets us against one another. The greater a nation’s appetite for resources, the more likely it is that it will go to war, and the more likely it is to tear up forests for open strip mines or to drill for oil deep below the ocean floor, wrecking marine habitats. The second type of wealth is what we see with new eyes. It is the community we find in mutual belonging.” (134)
It’s good to have your basic needs met. It’s important to have the things that you need, but the moment you go beyond that you risk the relationship that you have with yourself, with your neighbor, with creation, and ultimately it jeopardizes your relationship with God.
The hardest thing is to determine what our basic needs are. The authors say, “Our views about what’s normal and necessary are shaped by what we see.” (15) Our views are often shaped by commercials that tell us what we need and what would fix our lives. Consumerism pushes us towards dissatisfaction and a constant longing for more. We’re lonely when people surround us. We want more things while surrounded by things. I wonder how our lives would change if we actually acknowledged that for many of us living in the West, our basic needs are already met.