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America – Land of the Free and Miserable

10 Mar

 Man Standing from Wheelchair

The above picture saddens me.  We are so blessed, yet many don’t appreciate what it took to give us the luxuries that we take for granted today.  This lack of appreciation permeates our culture and leads to many problems.  

How can we as a nation be so rich, yet at the same time so apathetic and miserable?   

Just watch the news.  Or look at the statistics of how many Americans are on anti-depressants.  Observe the divorce rate.  As Americans have become used to luxury, they have in large forgotten where we have come from and forgotten God who has made those luxuries possible.  From that time on, we can see as people moved further away from moral principals and looked to themselves, problems in America worsened.  It is inarguable that crime, teenage pregnancies, drug use, suicide, murder, school shootings, etc. increases as morality decreases.   

This has led to the latest in the long line of attempted actions towards our own happiness – the pursuit of material possessions.  America is all about buying a bigger house, better car, nicer vacation, bigger diamond — even if we can’t afford it. 

All the while, people are starving in their own cities and other less fortunate people can’t pay to keep their heat on in the winter. 

This concerns me. 

Why do we place so much stock in our possessions?  Are we so naive and pride-filled to think that we deserve what we have?  It is feasible to think that someday (and perhaps soon) all the luxuries we have will no longer matter, for we may be forced to contend for the bare necessities (food, shelter, so forth).  All great nations and economies fall. 

What will we do should that day arrive today?   

The problem is that we base our lives on material possession, which truly hold very little value in the grand scheme of things.  Our attention and affections are put into the wrong things. 

Helen Keller, who spent the majority of her life both blind and deaf, writes: “Most of us, however, take life for granted. We know that one day we must die, but usually we picture that day as far in the future. When we are in buoyant health, death is all but unimaginable. We seldom think of it. The days stretch out in an endless vista. So we go about our petty tasks, hardly aware of our listless attitude toward life. The same lethargy, I am afraid, characterizes the use of all our facilities and senses. Only the deaf appreciate hearing, only the blind realize the manifold blessings that lie in sight. But those who have never suffered impairment of sight or hearing seldom make the fullest use of these blessed faculties. Their eyes and ears take in all sights and sounds hazily, without concentration and with little appreciation. It is the same old story of not being grateful for what we have until we lose it, of not being conscious of health until we are ill.  I have often thought it would be a blessing if each human being were stricken blind and deaf for a few days at some time during his early adult life. Darkness would make him more appreciative of sight; silence would teach him the joys of sound.” – From “Three Days to See, as published in Atlantic Monthly (January, 1933).  

Yogi Berra exclaimed, “The future isn’t what it used to be.”   

I think we all can agree with that.  But instead of just agreeing, let’s do something about it.

It’s not the government’s responsibility — it’s ours! 

Let us turn our eyes from ourselves (the selfish creatures we are) and return our gaze towards heaven and the God of our forefathers who can provide all that is required to live a life of fulfillment and peace.  Let us find a passion in seeing others comforted and placed even above ourselves. 

Albert Schweitzer stated: “The purpose of human life is to serve, and to show compassion and the will to help others.”  Albert realized that happiness will never be achieved in pursuing things for ourselves, but in helping others.  Are you in a bad situation?  Go help someone who is much worse off and you will thank God for your fortune for you will see that you are in a much better position than you thought!   Are you the one much worse off?  Then thank God you are allowed to see as Helen Keller did!  The main point here is getting your eyes off of yourself and on God and others.  There is unity and joy to be found in this.   

John Maxwell writes in Your Roadmap for Success Workbook: A reporter who talked to three construction workers pouring concrete at a building site asked the first worker, “What are you doing?”  “I’m earning a paycheck,” he grumbled.The reporter asked the same question of a second laborer, who looked over his shoulder and said, “What’s it look like I’m doing? I’m pouring concrete.”Then he notice a third man who was smiling and whistling as he worked.  “What are you doing?” he asked. The worker stopped what he was doing and said excitedly, “I’m building a shelter for the homeless.”  He wiped his hands clean on a rag and then pointed, saying, “Look, over there is where the kitchen will be.  And that over there is the women’s dormitory. This here…” 

Happiness and a sense of fulfilling one’s purpose can only be found in looking to help others. 

We should based our lives on this wise proverb: All glory to God, all credit to others, all the privilege is mine.  

I want to leave off by illustrating the dangers of the love of money.

In 1923, a small group of the world’s wealthiest men met at the Edgewater Beach Hotel in Chicago, Illinois.  They were a Who’s Who of wealth and power.  At that time, they controlled more money that the total amount contained in the United States Treasury.  Here is a list of who was there and what eventually happened to them: 

– Charles Schwab – president of the largest independent steel company – died broke.

– Arthur Cutten – greatest of the wheat speculators – died abroad, insolvent. (unable to meet debts).

– Richard Whitney – president of the New York Stock Exchange – died just after release from Sing Sing prison.

– Albert Fall – member of a U.S. president’s cabinet – was pardoned from prison so that he could die at home.

– Jess Livermore – greatest “bear” on Wall Street – committed suicide.

– Leon Fraser – president of the Bank of International Settlements – committed suicide. 

“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal.  For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

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Posted by on March 10, 2008 in christianity

 

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