Saturday, February 20, 2010

52/52: The Power of Half & The Hunger Game

Change of plans. Picked up The Power of Half by Salwen & Salwen. Basically it's the account of a family that sells their almost 2 million dollar house and gives 1/2 to charity. Obviously the Salwen's have enough money to spare a bit and their decision to give away a chunk of change is interesting enough but the story that I found most intriguing is the family process. It's The Dream Manager irl. The parents really involve their kids in the process, in fact their oldest daughter is instrumental in beginning the whole adventure that prompts the book. The author, a former Wall Street Journal writer and editor is a master story-teller and his writing is fun to read, though honestly it's a little hard to relate to a family of 4 who live an elitist, wealthy life-style, who believes they have sacrificed by moving from their $2million, 6000 square foot home to one in the same neighborhood that is merely 3000 square feet. However, the story of the family moving to a more deliberate way of thinking and living is enthralling. As the author states, "we were underway, beginning to dig into our core value, individually and collectively." Pretty cool. I wonder how many families ever get around to doing that. Reading this book made me really wonder how much we've done that.

I found the discussion about how others perceived their radical approach to wealth fascinating- they didn't initially receive the approval and accolades that they assumed they would and as a result, just stopped telling people about thier little project (until they really went public). We've had a taste of that along the way as we've lived out choices that seem very much to go against the grain of what's normal. "It had become clear that the audacity of this project was offputting to people, who took it as a challenge to their own lives or values. It made them uncomfortable and in turn made them perceive us as an oddity." We've sure experienced that with homeschooling. It always amazes me the explanations, excuses, and guilt that people share with me when they discover our choice to homeschool. Rarely do I ever bring it up (that stopped about a decade and a half ago) due to just the sort of responses that the Salwen's experienced.

The other stand-out, and this actually left me a bit puzzled was, in this families pursuit of finding a program to invest their money in, they actively sought out situations that were grass-roots and women led. Their belief that change needed to be instigated and sustained by women actually shocked me because of their assumption that that's the correct solution to social ills. It's not that I disagree that gender differences (which in areas of extreme need can translate in to life and death) need righted, it's the lack of acknowledment about the importance of men that I found disturbing.

And, as much as I disapprove of J.K. Rowling's I appreciated (most of) what she had to say about personal responsibility that this family tries to live out:
The education you have earned and received gives you unique status and unique
responsibilities...That is your privilege and your burden. If you choose to use your status and influence to raise your voice on behalf of those who have no voice; if you choose to identify not only with the powerful, but with the powerless; if you retain the ability to imagine yourself into the lives of those who do not have your advantages, then it will not only be your proud families who celebrate your existence, but thousands and millions of people whose reality you have helped transform for the better.
Again, a bit too much like est, and from where I sit theologically, God plans and purposed prevail despite our own imaginings. I resonated with the deliberate way in which the Salwen's intently purposed to create a family legacy and heritage that extends beyond themselves. Good stuff.

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. Another existential look at a world gone mad. I read a review last week that intrigued me, stating that it was "creepy." Actually I found The Road to be much creepier. Great character development and a story line that borrows from reality shows, and The Most Dangerous Game, with elements of a tragic Shakespearean love-story.


腰痠 said...

成功不是一個海港,而是一次埋伏許多危險的旅程。 ..................................................

Miss. Elisabethh said...

Nice review. Wonderful writing! I started reading the book and found it rather boring, but I guess I'll just have to plug away and keep reading after your review!