independent

Tuesday 29 July 2014

The age of wanting to own more material things

CANON NIALL AHERN

Published 16/10/2012|11:01

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THIS IS the age of acquisitiveness; of wanting to own and possess more and more material things. It is a time, however, when we are becoming aware of the shortcomings of having property or investments. It is a period during which we have realised that possessions have such a short life and that what we need to garner most of all is food for our souls.

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Money makes the world go around but, boy, didn't greed put it in a spin! If greed isn't harnessed and kept under control, it can destroy the world and the majority of its inhabitants before it stops spinning.

Greed is the reason capitalism and socialism function the way they do. The capitalist system encourages greed and depends on the constant race to own the most wealth.

Generally, it does so at any cost, including the destruction of the environment and the fabric of society. Because of some people's greed, the socialist system is marred by those who are never satisfied with their share; those who use whatever chance they get to manipulate themselves into better positions. But maybe the real problem is the lack of values or, more correctly, the perversion and distortion of values. As long as human beings are valued and celebrated more for their economic success or their power or influence, their spiritual and human progress will play second fiddle.

There are, and always have been, people who feel the need to own more worldly goods than their fellow man. There are those for whom a reasonably comfortable life is just not enough.

They feel the need to amass riches by whatever means necessary, so they can compare their wealth with the less fortunate as a measure of how much ' better' they are.

The reason to keep collecting wealth seems to be that having it results in respect. However, gaining respect through the accumulation of wealth is very different to gaining respect by your deeds. The perpetual struggle for wealth is nothing more than an attempt at boosting personal prestige. It is bringing, and will continue to bring, society down because it will never stop as long as there is someone richer and more influential.

There is a story I heard from a friend of mine about two wolves. That seems apposite here. One evening an old Cherokee Indian told his grandson about a battle that goes on inside people. He said: 'My son, the battle is between two wolves inside us all. One is evil. It is anger, envy, jealousy sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority and ego. The other is good. It is a joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity truth, compassion and faith.' The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather: 'Which wolf wins?. The old Cherokee simply replied: ' The one you feed.'

In this precarious time of ours in this country, we're more aware than ever before of the need to feed our souls; of buoying up our spiritual strength to shield us in all the combats that assail us in such a rapidly changing society. The gentler aspirations of our deepest selves are of perennial value.

Keep guard over your heart this week and to quote Julian of Norwich: "All will be well and all manner of things will be well".

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