Thursday, October 16, 2008
Today is Blog Action Day on Poverty, thus this post is on the topic of poverty.
Blessed are the poor in spirit, for the kingdom of God is theirs.
Whoever among you would be great, must become as nothing.
The first shall be last and the last shall be first.
It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven.
Man looks at the outward appearance but God looks at the heart.
What will it profit a man if he gains the whole world but loses his own soul?
A man's worth does not consist of the value of his possessions.
The world has been in economic turmoil for the last few weeks. Banks and corporations have failed, share values have plummeted, governments have been forced to commit billions of dollars in rescue packages to stop complete melt down of whole economies.
Mankind through history has for the most part put its faith in money as the answer to all of life's problems and challenges. More money = less problems has been the mantra.
Building and holding on to wealth has been the focus of most of the western world, and now increasingly it is being adopted by the eastern and developing world.
I like money, or I should say, I like having money.
But having money does not protect against or prevent things going wrong in life.
Illness strikes the rich and the poor alike. The rich can afford better health care, but they can't insure against the inevitable, we will all die in the end.
We are relentlessly pursued by the marketers, advertisers and sellers, to buy buy buy, because our lives can't be happy or complete without whatever it is they're trying to sell us.
But this pursuit of money and things does not bring peace or contentment. It's more likely to bring dissatisfaction and discontent.
Two of the world's most famous women died within a week of one another, Princess Diana and Mother Teresa. One had a life of wealth and luxury, power and pleasure, yet lived a sad and troubled life and died a sad and tragic death.
The other lived a life of service devoted to some of the lowest and the poorest people on earth. She lived a life of joy and fulfillment and was an inspiration to millions. At her death, Mother Teresa's only reputed possession was a bucket.
We would ordinarily consider the former rich and the latter poor, but I'm convinced it was the other way round.
Jesus, who had so much wisdom, love, compassion, power and faith that his life and teachings continue to draw millions of followers two thousand years on from when he lived, had only one possession at the time of his death, the robe he wore.
Somehow, in the big scheme of things, mankind seems to have gotten it wrong. The secret of happiness and peace and fulfillment is not in how much money we have or how many things we own. It is in knowing who we truly are, discovering our purpose, and connecting with our creator.
There is a lot of money in the world. But there is still a lot of unecessary death and suffering as a result of preventable disease, unclean water, lack of sanitation, insufficient health care and unequal distribution of resources. And don't mention the war!
The saddest part is that there is more than enough money to adequately provide and care for every person on earth. We can afford it. We have the means and the technology.
But we lack the one vital ingredient to make it happen.
We lack the will to do it.
The unified and committed will of the people with the power and resources at our disposal, and that's us, to make sure that the world is fed and provided for.
We think of poverty as being a lack of money, and it is.
But do we ever stop to consider that poverty is also being poor in attitude, poor in commitment, poor in will?
I am by Australian standards, fairly poor. My income is low and my assets are few.
Yet, in world terms I am one of the wealthiest people on the planet. I have much more than 95% of the rest of the world's population. I live in comfort and safety, I eat three times a day, have fresh and hot water at my disposal, a range of gadgets and appliances that make my life comfortable, two cars, a steady job, and a blog.
Am I rich or poor?
Ultimately I believe it has nothing to do with my possessions and everything to do with my attitude.