Weekly blogs as food for body, mind and spirit.
by Journey Agent, Isisara Bey
Slow Chew: $2.50 Tuesdays
Are you ready for some sobering statistics? The poorest 40% of the world’s population accounts for 5% of global income. Nearly half of all humanity lives on $2 or less per day. 80% lives on $10 or less a day.
That means that you and I and nearly everyone we know are rich in comparison. But I know we don’t often think so.
More often than not we think we don’t make enough money, or we can’t afford insurance, or unemployment runs out too quickly, or college costs too much, or groceries are too high, or the cable/internet/cell bills are way too crazy, or the mortgage/rent/maintenance fees are out of control. But compared to the folks described in the opening paragraph, we are filthy rich.
We’ve got a place to live, a wide variety of food to eat, too many clothes and shoes to wear. We’ve got affordable mass transit, disposable phones, public schools, 911 and hospital emergency rooms. When the power does down, or a water main breaks, or something catches on fire, someone comes to fix it.
We throw away more than most people will ever have in their lifetimes. We take for granted things that are not possible for most people on the planet, even in their wildest dreams. Fact it, no matter your income, if you are living in the global north and you are reading this, you are rich.
But this is not a lecture on excess, and I am not writing this for us to feel guilty. I’m offering a challenge, one that was offered to me, and that I have accepted.
This is the season of Lent for the Christians worldwide, and although I am not a Baptist, I am joining the Baptist church across the street from me in something called $2.50 Tuesdays. That means every Tuesday until April 20th, I will not spend more than $2.50 the entire day.
I live in New York City, which has one of the most accessible mass transit systems in the world, and which I use nearly every day. But a one-way fare is now $2.50. So next Tuesday, I’m breaking out my red leather sneaks and I’m either walking to work at the Count Me In offices, or I’m walking home. I’m not catching a cab if I am late. I’m not picking up a Starbucks tall soy vanilla chai latte or an Argo green tea ginger twist (hot) on the way. And I am certainly bringing my lunch and snacks from home. I’m not buying a pay per view movie that evening. I’m not ordering dinner to be delivered, nor am I stopping for carry out.
I’m doing this to live, if just for a day, in solidarity with those who live on little because they have no choice. I’m doing this so that for a few hours, I am aware of how my life in the privileged first world is impacting the developing world. I’m doing this to break the hold spending has over me, even in the smallest, slightest ways. I’m doing this to remind myself of all the things I have that make me wealthy beyond the measures I have been previously holding as my money thresholds. I’m doing this so that each time I think about spending, I am forced to re-frame my thinking and find a way live my life without exchanging dollars and cents.
Mindfulness, compassion, gratitude, sensitivity, political awareness, better economic stewardship, freedom from habit – these are the gifts I am certain will come in return. Care to join me?
Leave a comment if you’re joining Isisara Bey on $2.50 Tuesdays!