Picture this. You’re watching a commercial for luxury cruise travel. It shows happy rich people clinking together champagne glasses, dancing, and dining on the finest foods. The ad implores you not to settle for less. After all, when you travel, you deserve the best. You start trying to project the image of yourself into the scene. You try to see yourself ballroom dancing and eating caviar with the types of people in the commercial and you tell yourself that when you “get big”, “blow up”, “get yours”, “come into your own” etc. you will do that too.
Then the next commercial comes on. It shows a little African child with a dirty face and flies on his eyes crying. They proceed to tell you that for the price of a cup of coffee a day that child can have a better life. The ad implores you to not settle for less. They tell you that every day hundreds of children die needlessly and that you can help. You can’t even imagine being in that situation. A part of you wants to tell yourself that if you had “your millions” that you would send some money over there, but you quickly dismiss that thought. You may even turn the channel or begin to tell yourself that there is no way to know if those charities even do what they say they will do.
The next commercial is about the latest piece of technology and somehow they weave in words and concepts like “love” and “meaning” and saving time in your work so you can spend it with your family. All this happiness from a handheld computer, plus you can stream the latest movies all for the price of 500 cups of cheap coffee from your local convenience store. Oh God! What do you do with all of the information? It’s enough to make you insane and chances are it probably is. How do you prioritize these three divergent messages? Do you hold off on saving the child so you can buy the computer which will give you the time to go on the vacation with your family and then with the savings you keep from booking online you can help a starving child? Do you give up the coffee to save the child, but as a result not be able to buy the computer which means you have to work later which will take away time from you family as well as push that vacation off? Or do you go on the vacation, but stress the whole time because of all of the work you will have to do when you get home which will force you to drink more coffee and prevent you from saving the child?
This is the kind of mental crap we deal with day in and day out as we try to figure out who and how we are supposed to be in this world. We all want to enjoy our lives and make sure that we stay connected to the world while simultaneously doing some good while we are here. Most of us struggle with these thoughts and can only think of one thing that can solve our challenges–our Lord and Savior, the almighty dollar or whatever the currency is where you live. I can’t really speak for countries outside of America, but I have traveled quite a bit and in the metropolitan parts of the places I’ve been it all looks the same. Money worshiping is alive and well. Almost everyone I know wants to be rich. Most of the ones who don’t have only let the idea go after giving up because years of living beyond their means finally caught up to them. There are only a few people I know who either don’t think about it because they are already rich, they are more focused on spiritual pursuits, or they do not let their minds be controlled by mass media. These three are of course the minority. Every other poor person I know is waiting to “blow up” or “get their millions”.
If you are one of those people I have one question for you? Out of the 7 billion people in the world, why do you think you are entitled to be rich? I wonder that every time I hear people making those types of statements. Call me negative, but I am starting to believe that thinking like that is insane. All my life I have watched poor people pipe dreaming their way through life depressed and never appreciating what they do have because they are waiting for the day when they “get big”. Now does this mean that people should be complacent and not put forth effort to improve their lives because they may never be gazillionaires? No, of course not. Everyone should work hard to improve themselves and to expand themselves out of love and gratitude for their very being.
If you look at nature, everything grows and lives quite persistently. A few weeks ago I was ministered to by a weed that refused to give up. Eventually it broke through the asphalt that was covering it and reached up to the sun in defiance to every force that was trying to hold it back. That’s what life does. There were no promises made to that weed. No one said to it, “If you can get past that asphalt, I will give you $1 million dollars.” It wasn’t even promised respect or eternal life. In fact, a week later I returned to the weed and it had been snatched up at the roots.
Now if that weed had the mentality of most of us, it probably wouldn’t have grown unless it knew it was going to get rewarded for doing so. Life itself would never be reward enough. Even though we will all meet the same fate as that weed, many of us are so afraid of death that we barely live. We always want to know what we are going to get for exerting any effort in this world. If we don’t feel like we are going to get what we feel is due to us, we hold back. We don’t see the point. We are so worried about what we will get that we don’t know how to appreciate what we have. And when we think like that we become slaves to whatever will make us a promise. It’s that Adam and Eve thing all over again. The sad thing is that living like that is a type of death. It is the mentality that allows people to become addicted to things like drugs, sex, and even money. Yes, you can be addicted to money.
Anyone who has ever been close to an addict knows that once they get strung out they will do anything to get their fix. They will lie, steal, cheat, sometimes even kill. And when they get caught they will deny like crazy. People are the same way with money. As a recruiter, almost every person I speak to makes $100k at least. Even today that is a lot of money. Believe me, I live on a lot less. Yet, I will talk to people who say things like, “I cannot feed my family on $175k a year.” Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t think that there is anything wrong with making a lot of money. If you provide something of value to the world and society is willing to pay you that much then more power to you, but if you can’t feed your kids on that much money something is off. If your kids can’t eat then that means that they will eventually starve like the above mentioned Africans.
What this says to me is that we are all caught up in the same cycle. It doesn’t matter where you are on the wheel because we’re all spinning out of control. We have forgotten how to live for Life’s sake. Many of us have sold our souls for empty promises and we don’t even see it. Like someone who is addicted, we never can get enough and we do not do what is natural to life and love without incentive of some kind. This is how we lose ourselves to a future that is not promised and consequently cannot live in the Present–where life is happening. While we’re trying to get rich, many of us are simply dying.