Post modernism was all about statistics and programs and planning. The consumer was king… or queen, and the world became the oyster for all who could afford it. Of course, the ‘all’ were generally found in the West

Character became less important than presentation. Purpose and meaning gave way to the Age of Aquarius, the catch cry of which became ‘do whatever you want to do, as long as you don’t hurt anybody’.

Time has made it abundantly clear that human beings don’t have the capacity to do whatever they want to do without it hurting the people around them and the planet they inhabit. Witness our low priced clothes, phones, furniture and accessories … fantastic for us in what are ironically known as ‘first world’ nations, but not so great for the cheap labour in developing countries who work long hours for less than a pittance so that some of us can do whatever we want to do and have whatever we want to have.

The truth, as we are beginning to understand, is that our stats and data only show us what we want to see. Underneath the numbers and the pie charts exists a world of real, living, breathing human beings who love and hate and hope and dream, whose fears and failures and triumphs and tragedies are every bit as relevant as ours, despite our desperation not to see their plight or feel their pain or look for ways to meet their needs.

The problem for so many of us is that we’ve lost the sense of Story. Oh yes, we know our own story, and that of a few close and relevant ‘others’ in our lives, but the overarching story of the world and its people has been rendered irrelevant by our determination to preserve our rights as individuals and the lifestyle we deserve. We tune our TVs to entertainment, switching channels or going to make a coffee when we’re faced with someone else’s unpalatable story. We follow in the example of the comment attributed to Marie Antoinette when informed that the people had no bread to eat. ‘No bread’ she famously tittered, ‘then let them eat cake’.

Recently the long awaited iPhone 5 was released and people queued for hundreds of metres from the doors of the Apple stores, waiting in desperation for their latest electronic fix. Tragically, in other parts of the world, the queues were even longer as mothers and fathers and little children waited for a bag of rice that would feed their family for a week.

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salesSo, while half the world shops frantically for one last minute gift, one more box of chocolates, one final trawl of the clothing stores to get that perfect outfit for the Big Day; while we look for ways to enhance the stories of our friends and family over the Christmas week, how about making a mental note to spend some time in 2013 uncovering some of the stories that are harder to hear but ironically, maybe easier to find a solution for.

Here are a few suggestions. You might not be able to sort it out for this Christmas, but the opportunities to make a change will still be there next year.

Toilet Twinning

I twinned my toilet because it’s a fun and simple way to tackle the scandalous lack of decent loos and basic sanitation all over the world. Three children under the age of 5 die every minute because of poor sanitation and dirty water. So come on, let’s help change the world one toilet at a time. Twin your toilet today and make a wee difference.”  Tamsin Greig

Kiva.org

This is an awesome opportunity to invest as little as $25 as a micro finance loan, a loan with purpose, to give the opportunity to someone in a developing nation to go into business for themselves. A tiny loan for a mother or young person to go into business. Such a loan addresses the issue of poverty in a highly impactive way, taking away the ‘handout’ mentality and empowering the person to provide for themself and their family.

CherishUganda.org

For just $30 per month you can join the 6:3 Exchange, providing for a child who is HIV+ to live positively toward a future of hope. It’s a very small amount of cash to make so much difference. Akaloosa is a village of children whose lives have been changed for good forever, just because some people decided they could make a difference. You don’t have to visit this project to make a difference; you just have to let your heart get involved.

Make Life Worth Living

Today, an estimated 2 million women in Africa suffer from obstetric fistula caused by prolonged, obstructed childbirth and lack of access to maternity care. Western solutions such as Caesarean section are not available so the baby dies and the woman becomes an outcast from her family and community, condemned to a life of solitude and despair. We provide free surgery to heal fistula, free maternity care to prevent fistula and ensure safe childbirth, helping women like your mother, daughter, sister, aunt, cousin…

Mercy Ministries

We are committed to providing the young women we serve with excellent programme services that allow them to recognize their self-worth and prepare them to reach their full potential. Our Christ-centred approach to healing allows young women to permanently stop destructive cycles and prepares them to take hope out into their communities.

This week we celebrate the Baby who was born outback in a stable, whose first bed was a feed trough filled with straw. The great thing about Christmas is that it didn’t end there in that picturesque manger scene with the shining star overhead and the eclectic group of baby visitors.

Christmas is a heart thing. For God so loved the world that He gave… What He gave was the life of His Son to change the world. We can keep Him in the stable and take Him out once a year at Christmas time, or we can make a daily choice to let Him be expressed through our actions. Giving is cool… giving where there is no payback is even cooler.

I wonder what would happen if everyone made a decision to give something of themselves just once a day without any expectation of payback throughout 2013.

We might change the world.