There are worlds out there where the sky is burning, and the sea's asleep, and the rivers dream; people made of smoke and cities made of song. Somewhere there's danger, somewhere there's injustice, and somewhere the tea's getting cold. Come on, Ace. We've got work to do."
So this weekend I tackled something I've been meaning to tackle for a long time. It's been a combination of learning about the idea of microfinance; meeting and becoming friends with people from Senegal, Congo, DR Congo, and Cameroon; watcing Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala's TED Talk on business in Africa and Robert Neuwerth's TED Talk on the power of the informal economy. I put some of my money where my mouth is and started financing micro-loans through www.kiva.org.
Of course, if you want to become involved in this, too, then that's awesome. But that's not really what I'm blogging about this morning. In exploring Kiva's website, I came across their 'Lending Teams': groups of like-minded individuals banding together to finance loans for small business entrepreneurs all over the world.
There is a team of Kiva Mormons. They've lent over a million dollars in the last four years. Awesome, huh? On their team page, there is a declaration of motivation: "We loan because a man filled with the love of God is not content with blessing his family alone, but ranges through the whole world, anxious to bless the whole human race."
Excellent sentiment. The statement is taken from a quote by Joseph Smith, one that I've heard regularly my entire life. It's a fundamental thought in my faith. Mormons believe that if you want to be a good person, you'd better be doing good for someone else in the world. Yaay for us! Go Mormons!
But then I browsed some more. And what I discovered raised my spirits and filled my heart, not only with pride that I am LDS, but with pride that I am human.
The Catholic Kiva team loans because "It is the right thing to do."
The Episcopal Church loans because "As Episcopalians, we are followers of Jesus Christ, our Lord, and
believe in the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. We strive to love our
neighbors as ourselves and respect the dignity of every person."
The Mennonites loan because "The King will reply, 'Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the
least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.'"
The Orthodox Christians loan because all men and women are made in the image and after the likeness of God.
The Unitarian Universalists loan because they believe in the inherent worth and dignity of every person, and in justice, equity, and compassion in human relations.
The Jews loan to make the world a better place.
The Baha'is loan because Baha'u'llah said to "Be generous in prosperity, and thankful in adversity. Be worthy of the
trust of thy neighbor, and look upon him with a bright and friendly
face. Be a treasure to the poor, an admonisher to the rich, an answerer
to the cry of the needy, a preserver of the sanctity of thy pledge."
The Muslims loan because the Koran says "If ye disclose (acts of) charity, even so it is well, but if ye conceal
them, and make them reach those (really) in need, that is best for you:
It will remove from you some of your (stains of) evil. And Allah is well
acquainted with what ye do."
The Buddhists loan to water the seeds of awakening.
The GLBT Community loans because they know what is like to face barriers, and consider it a privilege to help entrepreneurs achieve their own equality.
The Followers of the Flying Spaghetti Monster loan because "Thou shalt share, that none may seek without funding."
The Atheists, Agnostics, and Skeptics loan because they care about the suffering of human beings.
The Nerds loan because they aim to decrease world suck.
Doesn't it just make you want to laugh and cry and jump and dance and hug everyone that you meet? There is so much good in this world. So much good. And the goodness is enriched, not hindered, by its diversity. What a bland place this good, wonderful planet would be if Joseph Smith's words were the only ones ever quoted. How much poorer would I be if everyone else were just like me?
I fervently believe every word up there. Many of them are from books I've never read and do not venerate as scripture, or written by people with whom I disagree on one issue or another. But I believe all these beautiful words, and rejoice that they've come into my life to fill it with a greater measure of truth and understanding.
Here's to the human race. All the human race.