Every now and then my attitude of gratitude strongly kicks in and I begin to think of the incredible blessings that are showered upon even the poorest of Americans. Yes, we have a long way to go, many challenges to face, but we are so very fortunate. So much of the world still lives in poverty and for so very long in human history, justice, liberty, and peace were the aberration, not the norm.
Most Americans are but a 911 call away from a standard of care and response that the majority of the world has never known and will never see. Our standard of living has jumped incredibly in the last 100 years as has our life expectancy. Now the greatest threats to our health are self inflicted: overeating, lack of exercise, smoking, alcohol or drug abuse, related with suicide rated as a top ten killer in many age categories. We have met the enemy and he is us.
Not only has our life expectancy greatly increased, the quality of that life has increased as well: 100 years ago many people lived with debilitating chronic illnesses or pains that now are treatable or curable.
To whom much is given, much is expected.
We have been given so much, we are so fortunate. But are we worthy? I think much is required of us, as individuals and as a society. And I wonder how well we are fulfilling that responsibility.
This is a question it would behoove us all to dwell on for a while. Perhaps in the process of answering, we might find a bit more balance between the quest for immediate gratification and embracing the art of the long view, a balance between the pursuit of mammon and the seeking of spiritual growth.
Don’t get me wrong: I’m an entrepreneur and a businessperson from the word go and I’m as fond of material things as anyone. At the same time I’m also a populist capitalist who is a big believer in a concept called principled profit, as well as stewardship leadership, the social contract and giving back to the community. In other words, balance between the things of this earth and things of a higher order.
To whom much is given, much is demanded.*
“For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?” – Mark 8:36 KJV
“There is enough in the world for man’s need but not for man’s greed.” – Mahatma Gandhi 1869-1948
* variations on the phrase “To whom much is given, much is expected/required/demanded” have been used often, a version appears in Luke 12:48