I'm hoping to get to a point where I can enjoy myself without feeling guilty about it. I know logically that there's nothing inherently sinful about being happy, celebrating a holiday or deriving pleasure from something material. God created us with an aesthetic sense so we could appreciate beauty. He gave us creative minds, a sense of humor, and the ability to laugh. He wants us to enjoy His creation, to build things and take pride in our accomplishments. He wants us to have a joyful spirit and to be happy.
That's part of why I created Take the Poor With You. I think there's a way to enjoy ourselves while simultaneously recognizing how lucky we are, and doing something positive for those who aren't so lucky. The philosophy of giving back isn't meant to be onerous -- it's meant to be freeing.
But it requires that we recognize the disparity in our world. We can't simply wall up that portion of our hearts that cares for the poor and tell ourselves "I'll think about them later. Right now I just want to enjoy myself." If we compartmentalize in order to soothe our consciences, we may stop caring entirely. And it's that sense of caring we need to always have with us, to lend us strength when we're tempted to ignore what's right and do instead what feels good.
A key compoment of this is to know what sort of things are happening to our brothers and sisters in different parts of the world. An educated soul recognizes its blessings. But more importantly, educating ourselves as to the true nature of this world is the only way to make informed decisions about what we are going to support. There's a link on the side of this page titled "Profiles of the Poor" that navigates to some of the events we need to be paying attention to. It's painful and difficult. But we have to know. Closing off our hearts isn't the answer.