Native American

Native American

Friday, September 26, 2014

FREEDOM - it cannot be bought, but it can be sold.

The accumulation of wealth is not a virtuous or even meaningful pursuit. 

Sorry, it just isn't.

Regardless of your faith, all of the mainstream religions are founded on the fundamental principles of love and service to others, not making a buck at other's expense for the sake of a new car, a bigger house, yet another pair of shoes (guilty), every imaginable new toy or gadget, whether for ourselves or our children, or any of the other material objects we devote so much of our incomes to obtaining. Every time you or I pass on making a contribution to a worthy cause - and there are so many worthy causes - so we can buy yet another adornment for ourselves or our lives, we are failing to be virtuous; we are failing our fellow humans; we are failing ourselves; and if a person of faith, we are, in addition to all of those things, also failing God.

Which is not to say that you are not free to devote your life to the pursuit of wealth for wealth's sake. Hey, it's a free country - or it's supposed to be. Because I believe in that freedom to the core of my being, I, for one, will defend your individual right to pursue wealth for wealth's sake, and to eschew the christian values of service and sacrifice that this country was founded upon. I hope the irony is not lost upon you.

But here's the thing, at least for me. That pursuit is enslaving us. We are enslaved by the rhetoric that justifies the endless pursuit of more stuff; we are enslaved by our adoration and envy of all those who have more stuff than us; we are enslaved by our contempt of all those who have less stuff than us; we are enslaved by the condescension we feel entitled to every time we actually act upon our christian values and do any little thing to help someone we deem as "less fortunate" than us; we are enslaved by our sense that we are entitled to have more than we do, which relieves us of any sense that, perhaps, we should be doing more for others who actually have even less. And if you are a person of faith, you are also putting more and more stuff between you and God.

I'm guilty. I'm not above all of that. I am at times filled with resentment because I don't feel rewarded or appreciated enough for all the sacrifices I have made for others. There are days when my frustration boils up in me and I lash out at those closest to me in anger and, sadly, entitlement. And I feel perfectly justified, at least in the moment, in feeling that way and acting that way. Feelings are powerful, and we are all "entitled" to have our own.

But just because you or I "feel" a certain way, doesn't make us right. Feelings are not facts. Just because I feel entitled and unappreciated, doesn't mean that I am entitled to one more blessing in my life, or another iota of appreciation than I've already received. But as long as we give in to that "feeling" that "I" deserve more, so I am entitled to turn my back on others; I am entitled to put wealth over service; I am entitled to use whatever means I can to get ahead and make the big bucks, or just one more buck, regardless of how I earn it, or who or what I earn it from, then we are willingly participating in the demise of our democracy and this amazing, beautiful country that was founded as a nation under God.

I saw Gasland 2 last night and whatever you might already "feel" about fracking, I dare you not to be shaken to your core by the degree to which we actively condone, on a daily basis, the abdication of our democratic process in favor of Corporate control all for the sake of money and stuff, and how we routinely abandon our neighbors out of fear and greed.

We are, as a community, as a nation, as the people of the world, in desperate need of a collective Counting Our Blessings day, every day, no matter how few they may seem on any given day. Because once you manage to step outside your own personal sense of entitlement, it is absolutely humbling to see how much you have been given and not feel compelled to give for the sheer privilege of giving, and to honor God, or the universe, for all that it has given you.

Stop today, and count your blessings and then just do one random act of kindness to someone who looks like they are in desperate need of it and remind yourself that being kind to others is the greatest kindness that we can give ourselves.