The other day I read a recent post from a friend of mine, Rachel, who has just moved to Malawi (and whose blog is always worth reading). Out of her experience in Malawi, she offers an illustration of want and plenty using a stubby pencil, the prized possession of one of their new friends, six-year-old Asan.
Christmas is a season for excesses, and of course there is something entirely right about that. But Rachel offers a timely reminder for this Monday’s food for thought to not forget that excess itself is culturally determined, that any abundance that comes to us must be held with the responsibility we owe to the ‘least’ in our societies, whether on a local or global scale – and that we are all impoverished when any one of us is, since that poverty often prevents people from making use of their full capacity in the service of the common good.
Asan, who is six, loves my son Aidan, who he summons daily by standing outside our house and shouting “Ten!”; “Aidan” has morphed in the Chichewa accent into “eh-TEN” and then attenuated, by Asan at least, into, simply “Ten.”
Asan likes to draw: the first time we met him, he clutched a small composition book, the kind American college students used to write their essay exams in (do they still do this?) and a pencil sharpened at both ends that was, tip to tip, perhaps one and a half or two inches at most.
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