I am radically changing topics today. I have been looking at myself, my patterns and what causes them. When looking in the mirror with a meditative eye, there is a certain hypocrisy that gets revealed. After all, everyone is a hypocrite to some degree.
Today, I’m not going to focus on me, per se. Instead, I’m going to address a greater hypocrisy than me. I know that limits the field, but in all fairness I am still part of it. And in truth, I’ve been thinking about how to conquer my recent depression. Trust me; this serves that goal.
Without attempting to be political, I’d like to share a few interesting thoughts about the entitlement mindset in America – not a topic untouched by me previously. I don't believe striving to be successful or even having money is wrong; often these are good things, but this is more about the motive.
The recent statistics I have discovered make the world’s hatred for America make sense. Let me explain by turning the spotlight on the culpability of the rich and their audacious greed for not redistributing the wealth among the neighbors. I phrased it that way on purpose, but there is mob mentality to pilfer from the coffers of those making more than six-digits.
Whether that opinion is valid or not, there has been a lot of talk by our Congress and “grassroots” groups about the top 1% of money-makers and how to force capitulation of their funds. And yes, there are many who are in need, even in America. But is $63K really the poverty line, as the 2011 Self-Sufficiency Standard suggests? I don’t mean to sound like Marie Antoinette, but to the rest of the world America must appear like a crowd of stingy scrooges fighting amongst ourselves.
From the world’s perspective, including industrialized countries, everyone in America is rich. The statistics I mentioned earlier illustrate this appraisal. Without considering any other variables beyond the wage itself, which I admit is not perfectly fair, if a person makes a mere $37,000 annual salary, he or she is among the top 4% of all wage-earners on the planet. To qualify to be on the list for the top 1% of the world’s richest, one only needs to make $45,000 per year.
Most of us are living large but refuse to recognize it. We still complain that it ain’t enough, like insatiable and irresponsible children. Yes, there are many greedy millionaires, but there are many greedy hundredaires too. My point is not about the amount of money but rather about covetousness and materialism.
I’m not asking anyone to sell their possessions and wander the earth. However, the next time I become frustrated because the store is out of the latest tablet computer or because my budget won’t let me afford two nights per week of steak-dining, I will remind myself of these numbers. When I can’t refinance the loan to absorb both my 18-month-new upside-down trade-in and also cover the tax, title and tag on the latest and loaded model, I will remember my world status. When my unlimited wireless data contract is adjusted with a threshold, making me ration the number of songs I stream from my personal song library to my phone in even remote locations, I will recall the fortune I already have.
Further, I know there are many who are hungry and broken in my own community. Although I have a history of sporadically serving, I plan to set a better schedule for my volunteer time and share this lesson with my daughter. It is important that I take action and not rely on others, charities or programs to do this work; it would be tragic if we all waited for others to act. But if only for selfish reasons, helping others helps me – I’ve learned that moral already.
But beyond charity, I will also be aware of the “moral high ground” upon which I stand as I judge how others bestow or horde their money because I cannot say grace over all that I enjoy. I need only worry about my own agreements for service in the vineyard and pay less attention to what the landowner pays his other workers.
I often hear lessons focusing on one point or the other, giving to the needy or minding my own business. Yet, each seems incomplete without the other. Perhaps practicing these two principles together is the secret to face the man in the mirror.