Thursday, August 4, 2011
As long as I can remember, there has always been a trash day when the sanitation trucks would pick up the household garbage from the curb. Now, there is no trash day. There are no sanitation trucks making weekly pick-ups. Instead, at least once a week, we take our trash to the nearby recycling center which is just a fancy name for a garbage dump. Four big bins are perched there to receive whatever it is that folks like us have to throw away.
Today as I was throwing a week's trash from the garbage cans on the trailer, a chair in the trash bin caught my attention. It was broken, worn out, and was in the right place, but it caused me to take a second look at the mound of garbage in front of me. What struck me was the number of plastic bags and cardboard boxes filled with throw away stuff. The news the previous evening showed cardboard boxes broken down and being used for walls, making a virtual cardboard community in Haiti. The same news interviewed a victim of East Africa's drought and famine in his refugee home made of plastic sacks.
In that moment at the dump, I did not see trash, but building materials for the world's poorest. We truly are a throw away society. What we throw away would be hoarded and used by the newest community of refugees. Our conversations about giving always seem to center on how much we give. It would be a far more enlightening and, perhaps, more productive conversation to center on how much we are keeping for ourselves. When we walk the road old Dives walked (Luke 16:19-31), we may not hear the question, "How much did you give?" but "How much did you keep for yourself?"