In high school, I remember having long conversations with a family friend about the evils of shopping at Walmart. I could not understand why someone would choose loyalty to a store that was so under scrutiny for poor employee treatment. (Being the idealistic teenager, I didn’t recognize that most big box stores function similarly…)
For our friend, seeking the best deal on a product was the bottom line – buying from Walmart or Target or the local mom & pop shop didn’t matter. It was made in the same factory but one store charged less.
The difficult thing with Connectedness as a strength is that while I see the lines between my t-shirt and factory labor clearly, others don’t. And really, it’s not up to me to convince them to see those lines.
I can clearly make connections between the food we eat, the impact factories have on the environment, and the fact that we use precious water resources on animal production. And yet, telling others of this most likely won’t change minds. I can recommend books I’ve found valuable, but what I’m learning is that the most powerful thing I can say is nothing. It’s in the way we live and in the small choices we make as a family that has the biggest impact.
I think of that, especially as Bea notices more and more the choices we are making and she asks the question, why:
Why don’t we eat at “Old MacDonald’s”?
Why do we write to Samuel and Flaviane? (Our Rwandan sponsored children.)
Why do we put money in the red bag at church?
All these questions – and so many more! – create our family’s culture. And the answers to those questions help create connections between Bea and a broader world. A world where our choices, from the clothes we buy to the food we eat to the budgeting decisions we make don’t just impact our family. They are choices that connect us to the world and to families like ours.
Seeing our part in the world, drawing those lines is incredibly important to me. (I guess this makes sense, as Connectedness is my second-strongest strength.) Because of this, I’m trying to be more intentional in how I present these relationships to our daughters. I want them to be conscientious and aware, but also to make these discoveries for themselves. So I answer the questions and make sure they see and hear us debate our purchases – the whys and hows. Even though we give online, we also physically give at church and to other charities, so the girls see this tangible act.
These small ways, and the conversations that come because of them, is how I hope to create global citizens. I hope our daughters become women who don’t find their allegiance with a country but with the world; who are loyal to all people, regardless of background or culture.
Do you see connections in your world? How do you respond to that big picture?
This post is Day 17 of the Write 31 Day Challenge. I’m spending the month of October writing about the StrengthsFinder test. You can find the entire series over at Live Your Strengths page.