NEED, NOT GREED
Cast your bread on the waters, for you shall find it after many days. (Ecclesiastes 11:1)
Yesterday I had an interesting conversation with two carpenters, rebuilding a house on Craigville Beach. We have gotten to know each other, saying “hello” as I pass by on my morning walks. As I went by, the men were standing by the port-a-potty. I quipped, “At least no one’s tipped over your outhouse.” To which one of them replied, “Last night someone came by, stole the hand sanitizer and ripped off the apparatus it was attached to.”
I am in no position to judge the vandal’s motives. But someone felt that they needed hand sanitizer so desperately that they vandalized the contractor’s property. (Or, perhaps, it was a prank!)
Mahatma Gandhi once stated that the we have enough for everyone’s need but not everyone’s greed. In times of crisis, many follow their better angels reaching out to persons in need, giving up time, talent, and treasure, to help both neighbors and strangers. Crisis can bring out the best in humankind as we go beyond self-interest to care for our community and the world.
Crises can also bring about the worst in some people. They hoard, confiscate others’ property, and circle the wagons in self-protection, not realizing that their own greed and self-interest puts them at risk. Greed and acquisitiveness in times of bounty or plague shrinks our souls, while generosity expands our souls. In describing those who are rich in things but not in spirit, Jesus says you can gain the whole world but lose your soul. This may apply to the 1% whose wealth contrasts with the poverty of millions as well as those who put others at risk by their hoarding of much needed supplies like masks and sanitizer.
In this challenging time, let us be “Mahatmas,” big souled people, who both take care of ourselves and ensure that our neighbor has what they need. Let us be generous and safely reach out to our neighbors in need through donations, phone calls, shopping drops on doorsteps, and kind words. Such generosity expands our souls, enabling us to experience a sense of peace and wellbeing despite external circumstance. We become agents of grace and tipping points toward a better world.
Loving God, awaken us to your generous Spirit. Let us care for those around us, praying and helping as we are able. Let us be Christ to one another. Amen.
Bruce Epperly is a Cape Cod pastor, professor, and author of over fifty books including “Faith in a Time of Pandemic,” “Finding God in Suffering: A Journey with Job,” and “Become Fire: Guideposts for Interspiritual Christians.”