What we want costs significantly more than what we need. We can call this gap in price the Luxury Cost of our purchases. For example, Suave shampoo at $1.50 is left on the shelf in favor of a $12.00 salon shampoo. A $5 soup and sandwich at home is exchanged for a $23 sushi dinner at a nice restaurant. If we add up our luxury costs each year, the results would floor us.
We’ve lost two abilities in the relatively homogenous, wealthy worlds where we live – we rarely remember the plight of the poor and, so, we rarely consider the ways our consumption inadvertently (but POWERFULLY) affects them.
Every dollar we put into our luxury is a dollar that probably doesn’t help the poor. Imagine purchasing a new car or house. We typically try to buy the maximum we can afford. We want safety and safety costs money – a car with more safety features or a neighborhood in a safer area. But many poor don’t have FOOD safety. We’re securing marginal safety increases while the most basic safeties of the poor are lacking or altogether missing.
We have budgets for “eating out” (which often has a significant Luxury Cost) when millions of poor in our streets don’t have a budget for eating at all. Oh, my soul! God will certainly judge us for this.
We don’t intend to be cruel. We learn to live life like those around us. But what if that way is wrong? We’ve lost our sense of sacrifice. Jesus Christ had everything. And he sacrificed it all.
Figuratively, we have everything also. And most of us, myself included, sacrifice so little. “Give until it hurts,” Mother Teresa famously said. We give until it affects our luxury. Or, more accurately, we spend on luxury and see what’s left to give – which is usually very little because our appetite for luxury has grown to be so voracious. We have it backwards!
We must identify and cut our Luxury Spending. We must suffer. And we must research our investments in non-profits as we do our financial investments. Our “humanity investments” should help the suffering poor become non-suffering and non-poor. It should help them become everything they’re capable of! Too few non-profits truly accomplish this work. We must demand it! We must stop with the never-ending band-aids on poverty. We must minimize our Luxury Costs. We must do it in the name of Love. Oh God, help us be these people!
If our ancestors could see the luxury we live in, they would think themselves in a dream. We are like modern-day royalty. We have rooms in our houses that are bigger than some of their homes were.
What are we doing with this ease of life we have? Are we consuming it only for ourselves or leveraging it to do good in the world?
This can be an expensive life but it doesn’t need to be. We need only consider our forefathers’ lives. They made do with so little. We may not need so much! If we live within our means, it means we can have the time and money to help others.
May we be benevolent people, thinking of and acting to love those in life stations far different from our own.
The problem with school today is that subjects are taught with little view to their benefit for the student or the world. “When will I ever use advanced algebra in real life?” students often complain. Perhaps never. But that isn’t the point. The point is that the mind is being challenged and, as it grows from struggling through algebra, it will become better fit to do all the other work before it.
Even if someone believes this, though, school would still fail to be all it could be. It isn’t often that a student believes the subject they’re studying is a key to the greater good of the world. But most can be! Education for its own sake inspires few. It is applied knowledge we must pursue. Learning for the good of the world! We must do better with our children today – teaching them that their life and their education – their classes and their major and their free time – matter because it can be of service to do good for humanity for the rest of their lives. Why major in finance? Unless one is specially suited for it (and some are!), there are enough bankers! We, as adults, must think on this ourselves for our own lives!
Our society’s experiment with education primarily as a means to money, lifestyle, ego, and prestige is played out, boring, selfish, and uninspiring. The question shouldn’t be “How much money can I make?” But “How much good can I do?” And when the kids ask, “Why do I have to go to school?” The answer is, “Because there’s a whole lot of good you need to figure out how to do in this world!”
The place I find the most comfort in my heart on this earth is not surrounded by people but surrounded by words and stacks of books. I’m a loner who likes to learn. I know this anti-social sentiment is mostly frowned on in today’s push to community. It conjures the words “recluse”, “hermit”, and “ascetic” – mostly negative ideas. Many days I feel guilty about this.
But if we have people with eye colors that range from every shade of brown to blue and gray… If we have people who range from every height infant to eight-footer… If we have people who posses every skin color from alabaster to brown and black… Why wouldn’t God see fit to make some people intensely private and loving the company of words all the time and some people intensely public and loving the company of people all the time… And everything in between.
May we try not to despise the unusual, unpopular things about ourselves! We’re well-made!