“We are at war with ourselves. We have put our faith in the mythical god of progress and are seeing the consequences. Millions of ecological refugees wander the earth, seeking an environment capable of sustaining their lives. . . . Did God have this kind of progress in mind?”
-Louis Vitale, OFM, Love is what Matters
My dedication to a simple lifestyle was not a choice I made altruistically. No, it was forced medicine for a chronic financial malady. But, it opened my eyes to an alternative world where the Joneses do not matter, accumulation of stuff is not a priority, big boy toys are unimportant and money is a resource to be respected and used wisely.
Yes, by Western standards, I am the poorest man I know, but I am extraordinarily blessed with every one of my needs filled. It took severe financial reversals at age 60 to teach me life’s true priorities. It is not about the stuff we gather unto ourselves, nor the clothes we wear, nor the degree behind our names, nor the shiny new BMW we drive, nor the universities our kids attend, nor the upscale church we attend, nor the country club memberships.
Real blessings have no price tag nor can they be bought. You and I awakened this morning breathing air and pumping blood. Of all the people on earth we probably have the most reasonable chance of surviving for the next 24 hours without fear of being murdered or maimed. If we are hungry, someone nearby will feed us. If we are cold, someone will provide us a blanket and a breakfast. When we are lonely, a friendly ear is just minutes away. With raised arms to the heavens let us be grateful! Most of the world’s population does not have what you and I have at this very moment.
For meditation today, consider those who have lost all possessions and their homes to natural disasters. Floods, fires, hurricanes and tornadoes devastate without discrimination. Droughts are causing famines, changing weather patterns are creating wastelands out of productive lands. The vagaries of nature combined with the unbridled greed of Western society have set the stage for a deluge of ecological refugees.
Man, in his quest for material wealth, social status, and personal comfort, seems to have forgotten that all of us need this earth to survive, all of us need to share the resources. There are no shortages if we learn to compromise and share. We do not live in a world of scarcity; rather, we live in a world of plenty designed by nature to accommodate its people if they learn to share the bounty. No one blessed with material wealth and financial success is more privileged or more deserving than another of the world’s brothers/sisters struggling to survive as refugees, either ecological or political. We ARE our brothers’ keepers; we cannot allow political or social influence to refute ancient wisdom.