I repeat “Do not labour for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures forever.”
A very good friend of mine who happens to be my father once told me ” it is not about money, my darling, it is about our perception of money-dealing. If you are greedy you will never have enough, if you are modest you will always have too much. It is never about the amount but about our character. And happiness- he said- you will find it somewhere in the equilibrium between these extremes.” While growing up, I have seen many examples proving the words of this very good friend of mine to be true. And unfortunately, many unhappy people. Because there is never a full satisfaction. Do you remember the lyrics of a very famous song by “Rolling stones’ :
“I can’t get no satisfaction, I can’t get no satisfaction. ‘Cause I try and I try and I try and I try. I can’t get no, I can’t get no.’ While watching TV a man comes up and claims how white my shirts could be. Well he can’t be a man ’cause he doesn’t smoke the same cigarettes I do.”
Why can’t we get any satisfaction? In a simple way explained “he doesn’t smoke the same cigarettes that I do” means that what’s good for you, what brings you satisfaction does not necessarily bring me the same satisfaction. More importantly , satisfaction is not necessarily about the “amount” or “quantity” of something that you possess. I believe that it is only about our mindset – yes, I believe it is all in your head. You can have very little and be satisfied, you can have very much and feel that you’re always starving for more. Which reminds me again for my favourite Stainbeck’s quotes : ” Ellen only last night asked me – father when are we going to be rich. But I didn’t tell her what I already knew – Soon it will be, because in poverty she is greedy and envious , if we become rich she is probably going to get conceited. It is not about symptoms but about the sickness at all.”
Gluttony. (Latin, gula) is the over-indulgence and over-consumption of anything to the point of waste.
In Christianity, it is considered a sin if the excessive desire for food causes it to be withheld from the needy. Because of these scriptures, gluttony can be interpreted as selfishness; essentially placing concern with one’s own interests above the well-being or interests of others. According to catholicism, there are six ways to commit gluttony, comprising: • Praepropere – eating too soon • Laute – eating too expensively • Nimis – eating too much • Ardenter – eating too eagerly • Studiose – eating too daintily • Forente – eating wildly People commit every single sin because of their perpetual dissatisfaction.
And here comes the paradox. Someone tells you the word Africa! Use your imagination – what does this word mean to you?
I tried this experiment with my friends and to make a long story short- poverty, starvation, skinny kids, malnutrition, poverty again? And I thought: hmm, my friends are pretty intelligent and they should know that Africa is a really beautiful place, with amazing culture, traditions and nature, that is actually a continent made up of many different interesting countries and not a hell?! Why all this negative feedback just mentioning one name?! And then I thought: Why? I will tell you why? Mass media, politics? Yes, probably.
I go to my fancy gym and on the big plasma screen I see one of the thousands campaign crying “this is Karen, she is 9, she is dying because her mother has no work and cannot buy enough food to support her family- but you can help? How ? Donate only 20 euros a month from your account, feed Karen, help her live, help her survive in Africa” – then they give you a close up of the skinny body of Karen and her huge eyes full of tears. So I see, my actual problem today that after visiting my friends in England I gained like 1 pound and I need to exercise more to get in shape, eventually became not a big deal. I feel ashamed.. And then around I see 3-4 women in my gym, who were watching the voluntary campaign with me who are already in tears and thinking about Karen. I will tell you something! Tonight these women, from this posh gym will go back home and tell their super rich husbands who have been working all day “darling, do you know what I saw today. The gym? And they will be like? What ? And the women will answer: “I saw Karen, and her huge eyes full of tears, and we need to help her eat” And her husband, who is not like her (most probably) and who actually uses his ability to reason, knows that sending money around is not an actual solution for world poverty-it is what will feed Karen today but not tomorrow. It is not what will prevent many other cases like Karen’s. Many other huge eyes full of tears. But this man also probably loves his wife and doesn’t want to make her feel unhappy, that’s why he will help Karen. That is the right but easy choice.
Why is it easy?
because this man, probably is working so much to pay for his wife’s posh gym and many other things, that he is tired. He is tired and he will close his eyes and choose the lesser of two evils. He will send every month this 20 euro, which is nothing for his income and budget- so he will be in peace so that his wife is happy, consequently Karen will be fed, and there will be roses and butterflies in the world. And that’s more than fantastic.
But guess what? Choosing the lesser evil is not actually choosing something good. Then again, who am I to know what is good and what is bad? What it’s not fantastic is that during my experience abroad I have lost most of my childish beliefs that when you send money, it actually goes to feed Karen. Yes probably if the organisation is big and legal at all- some percentage of these 20 euro per month will actually reach Karen. Maybe. But that is not the only problem. The bigger issue is when we send these small amount for us, and trust me big amounts for the African standard, we create a gap that actually according to my believes in a long term hurts more than it will help. In simple words. Imagine that? …What is better for the sake of your children? To teach them how to cook a meal or to prepay a restaurant to deliver for them everyday… What would be more useful for your kids in the long term. To teach them how to cook a meal or to prepay a restaurant to deliver for them everyday? And more importantly, if you can’t support paying the bill for the pre-paid restaurant anymore, which choice will help your kid to survive? Teaching or pre-paying?
Now back to Karen’s case. Now back to easy choices- versus difficult choices. I often tell people that I do what I do, not because I feel pity about those who are less fortunate in their lives. I actually think that pitying people is one of the most disgusting thing someone can do. You pity people when you feel you have more than the others, when you consciously or not undervalue others based on your standards. Feeling pity doesn’t resolve problems, actually it creates bigger ones. So I do what I do, because I believe that everybody deserves an equal opportunity of knowledge and information. I believe that knowledge and information are the best gift people can transmit amongst each other. That’s why I continue to do voluntary work. Since I have freedom to do what I wish, it s a bit easier to continue to focus on the less fortunate. Not because I pity, but because I believe in 21st century we have to know things, we have to use our brains. Because trust me, the mind is really like a parachute it works best when open. And when is it open? When we use the information, when we use our brain to assimilate this information. And trust me, I do not and will never ask you to think like me. The only thing I want from you is to think at all. And if you are able to give and provide information what’s better than that? And if the one you want to transmit things and knowledge you already have, doesn’t want to use them , then so be it. Not your problem. Ignorance is a choice. Not your problem. But not transmitting or restricting especially a young, growing mind from education and knowledge, according to me is the worst sin that can be committed. Because I always tell my loved ones -the worst thing is closing your eyes. This is the worst choice. Yes paradoxically, not making a choice is actually the worst choice you can make. That is why I love Voltaire’s piece of wisdom that says:
” We are all guilty for all the good we didn’t do.”
To be continued…