Friday, September 12, 2008

Contentment


In reading "Affluenza," I was struck by a Bible verse that the authors excerpted as a chapter heading. Here's the version from my great-grandfather's old Bible:

For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and raiment, let us be therewith content. But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. -- Timothy I, 6: 7-10

I thought that was exceptionally well-put. It describes so much of the misery in the current economy, and came to mind as I was reading this morning about the apparent collapse of Lehman Brothers. I don't pretend to be completely content with just "food and raiment," but I think the reminder to consider what we really need is worthwhile.

(Photo: Sag Harbor, Sept. 2008)

10 comments:

tut-tut said...

It seems so simple, doesn't it? yet the lesson never seems to be entirely taken to heart.

Squirrel said...

Like Tut Tut said, but we have days! Going raiment shopping with friends today, and this will remind me to keep it very practical. Thanks! Steve (and Timothy!)

Barbara said...

I've always thought with money it is important to have just enough not to worry about food and shelter and the basics of life, but an excess of money always seems to lead to unhappiness and trouble.

Even though Paul hated women, he seems to have understood money in his writing to Timothy.

Reya Mellicker said...

Who can blame us for loving money so much? Money symbolizes safety and security, those elusive dream states we so yearn for.

Everything about human society speaks to the desire to be safe and secure, and to make sure our clan/unit/family or whatever is also safe and secure. That means hoarding the goods and making sure that other units/clans/families don't steal it.

We're an easily frightened, not very confident species. Awww..

Thanks for the quote and the beautiful pic. And for making me think. I love that.

Merle Sneed said...

An excellent post Steve.

We become slaves to our stuff.

Adrianne said...

In April 2001, I visited a part of Thailand into which westerners seldom venture. The people there had ample food, but they lived in the simplest of thatched huts and had very little beyond the bare necessities. Although these folks were poor as dirt, they were totally at ease with the little that they had and did not indulge in the habit of wanting more. They also were the most friendly, laid-back, generous, and fulfilled lot of people I've ever encountered. That was a very eye-opening trip.

Betty said...

So wise. And so hard to put into practice.
Interesting that the writer doesn't condemn money itself. it's just that when we make a god out of it, it does us harm.
As always, Steve, food for thought ..

Steve said...

That struck me too, Betty. People often quote this as "money is the root of all evil." But that's not what it says at all -- it's LOVE of money that's the problem!

e said...

I think that there is more than love of money involved. While that is certainly part of the problem, we are constantly told, directly as well as subliminally, that we should consume to be happy, to stimulate the economy and to achieve the "American Dream."

How many of us are willing to turn off the advertising our televisions and other media bombard us with?

How many of us are willing to purchase clothing second-hand or go without buying new items like books, CDs, videos, computer games or software in favor of used versions or none at all? Can we do without the lattes available on every street corner from Starbucks?

Do we shop and eat locally via farmers markets, neighborhood co-ops or our friends container gardens?

In most cases, the answer is no. Why? Too hard, too inconvenient, we don't have time...

Few of us really look at how we spend either our time or our money. If we did, we might realize that this hyper-consuming we are all doing robs us of both and that if we had less and could work less, we would have the time we need to devote to the things that matter most to each of us. For some this means family, for others it means friends and community. Whatever it means to you, figure out how to live to sustain your life, not your stuff...

Sorry about the rant...guess I do need my own blog after all...

lettuce said...

i always think that i don't understand economics at all
but sometimes i wonder if its so complicated as a control mechanism?

my main question about economics is why "growth" is so taken for granted as necessary.
Okay if it meant growth in living standards for the poor or growth in life expectancy for developing nations - but it seems to mean growth in income for all those of us who really have more than enough already.

and its hard to be optimistic that we'll ever learn