Deep engagement versus enough engagement?

Posted on March 11, 2011 by Erin Cummisford

I’ve been thinking a lot about David’s last post (here), and have a few thoughts to share. 

I don’t think it is realistic to expect people to engage deeply with every issue, even those that are important to them.  Many people I know have their own issue(s) that they are already engaged deeply with — they may care about world hunger, but they simply not have the time or energy to invest in deepening their engagement and understanding of it.  Ending world hunger is complicated and not as simple as increasing crop yields, or sending people food.  Working to end world hunger is also pretty overwhelming, and frankly many people are already overwhelmed with their day-to-day lives.

If you’re not deeply engaged, fully informed, and thinking systematically about hunger, and if you jump into feel-good activities that may not be sustainable, there is potential for unintended consequences.  David’s previous post on this topic here really resonated with me.  Most people in the pews on Sunday are not experts on the complexity of world hunger issues — they are experts in their own chosen fields and their own personal causes.  You don’t have to be an expert to make a difference. 

To me, it is critically important that every ELCA member understand that they are part of a larger church that does have a deeply engaged, comprehensive and sustainable program that uses multiple strategies – relief, development, education, and advocacy – to address the root causes of hunger and poverty.  Obviously, I am referring to ELCA World Hunger.  ELCA World Hunger responds to neighbors around the corner and across the world, working through trusted global partners and companion synods.   People who are suffering from poverty and hunger are connected to the resources they need to lift themselves out of poverty. 

For those Lutherans who are busy engaging with special education needs for their children, illness or disease in their family, or myriad other issues – I believe it is enough for them to donate to ELCA World Hunger (here or here), and trust that their investment is in good hands.  You can give (generously) to ELCA World Hunger and know that you are making a wise investment in fighting world hunger, and that your dollars are making a difference – even if you don’t have time to fully engage with the issues and become an expert on world hunger in your own right.

Erin Cummisford

Note: This post was written before the unprecedented earthquake hit Japan today. Please know that our prayers are with all in Japan and across the Pacific who are affected by both the earthquake and tsunami. Also know that ELCA Disaster Response is already in communication with our partners in Japan to learn about what’s happening and what will be needed. Current information is posted at the ELCA Disaster Response blog, and donations to respond to disasters – wherever they occur – are always needed. Please consider making a donation. Thanks!

Share