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How Much Money Do Americans Need

That the hot pursuit of money can pull someone away from all other matters in life is now becoming more obvious in America. Some people who have made their first million and more are turning to something else for fulfillment. Some are becoming volunteers, others are joining religious movements and still others are giving their money away to help those less fortunate. Why is this happening? I have traveled through a lot of the world and have developed an obvious bias when it comes to Americans. Besides being the most stubborn, silly and obstinate people on earth I am sure they are the kindest people as well. The level of caring for others here outshines anything I have seen worldwide.

On the collective level Americans often raise more money and send more aid the people of foreign countries than their own governments raise to help. On the personal level the stories of generosity and kindness are countless. It is a matter of the heart I’m sure. As a boy my mother drove me to the town square to do a few errands with her. She told me to go to the news stand and buy her daily paper while she went to do an errand.

I wandered slowly down the street window shopping as I went with my imagination in high gear, it was Christmas time and I was dreaming of all the things I though Id like to have at that time when it was most likely I might get them. I was within a block of the news stand clutching the fifteen cents tightly in my hand for the paper. I passed by the doorway of an unoccupied building and there sitting on a tiny wooded platform was a legless man. Shabbily dressed and unshaven he sat shivering in the cold with an old tin can in front of him stuffed with a few yellow pencils. He called out…pencils…five cents. I froze in my tracks and gazed at him. My emotions were a rock hitting the calm waters of a pool sending splashes and effects everywhere at once. I had not seen anything like that yet in my life. A sense I could not explain or describe gripped my heart. I gave him the fifteen cents and stepped back as he tried to give me three pencils.

I said …no, sell those to someone else, and then I ran. My mother scolded me when I explained what I had done but I couldn’t hear her very well. All I could do is to think about that man and his condition for hours, even days to come. Up to then I had paid little attention to higher morals, right and wrong or religious teachings. I was just too busy being a boy. What made me stop and give him the money puzzled me for years. I know now it was something I am made of and not something I learned. That is what I mean about Americans although not all. They are made of something different. I can only guess that it the grace of God still lingering on a nation that hasn’t given up completely on things that are right and faith in a living God.

When they do turn from these things it seems they don’t notice it too well because they do it by degrees. With the distraction of so much information and education along with the profusion of entertainment and recreational options it seems Americans are drifting. They aren’t just drifting from higher principles but from higher purpose. They are learning what everything is made of but forgetting what they are made of. Some temptations are more universal than others. Most people will not become Presidents or statesmen and most will not become well known actors or performers. But many people realize that in today’s booming economy there is opportunity to become very rich. At the very least there is opportunity to get…just a little bit more. If the unbridled pursuit of just a little more money can pull people away from God’s message to them, then it is reasonable to think that it can pull them away from many other things as well…even themselves or who they really are. And that which fell among thorns are they, which, when they have heard, go forth, and are choked with cares and riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to perfection.

Luke 8:14.


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