October 2006 - Volume 11, Issue 3
S. A. L. T.
Imagine this! A national one-hundred million dollar lottery sponsored by the federal government has been initiated in order to alleviate the burden of the national debt and to subsidize the funding of the Social Security and Medicare systems. The lottery is conducted by a new government agency known as the Save American Liberty Trust (S. A. L. T.). Every taxpayer has twenty-five dollars deducted from his or her wages or bank account each week for the purpose of being enrolled in the lottery. The drawing takes place on the first Saturday of the month. Any individual may purchase entries from a registered agent located at local Post Offices. Players insert their Social Security number on a national lottery web site and automatically are entered in the current month's drawing. A computer at the headquarters of S. A. L. T., located within the U. S. Treasury building in Washington, D. C., randomly selects a Social Security number from among the entries. The holder of that number wins one-hundred million dollars. The prize money is exempt from any local taxes, but is subject to a twenty percent federal tax. The winner receives a total of eighty million dollars. Now imagine that YOU are the winner.
What are you going to do with this incredible bounty? You possess more money than, most likely, you would ever spend. Invested wisely, it could produce a like situation for your heirs. How will great wealth affect your character? Will your life become marked by vulgar extravagances or highlighted by philanthropic endeavors? There are, however, deeper and more fundamental concerns. Can your money make the sunlight brighter, the sky bluer, or the rain softer? Can it keep you from stubbing your toe? Can it ensure joy in the depth of your being? In defiance, will you shake your fist at God and try to cheat death? Or, in gratitude, will you stand humbly before God and seek to serve Him better? You can afford everything, but will you value anything?
The superrich make lousy neighbors–
they buy a house and tear it down
and build another, twice as big, and leave.
They're never there; they own so many
other houses, each demands a visit.
Entire neighborhoods called fashionable,
bustling with servants and masters, such as
Louisburg Square in Boston or Bel Air in L.A.,
are districts now like Wall Street after dark
or Tombstone once the silver boom went bust.
The essence of the superrich is absence.
They're always demonstrating they can afford
to be somewhere else. Don't let them in.
Their money is a kind of poverty.
– John Updike, Slum Lords
Curiously, riches have the power to enhance or to impoverish the quality of one's life. Indeed, let it be stated that living in limited circumstance is no great joy. Financial security goes a long way toward soothing the nerves and vanquishing certain anxieties. Yet, the course of the affluent may be no less rocky and thorny than that of other folk. Wealth is what it is. The prudent person does not ascribe to it expectations or meanings that it cannot and never was meant to fulfill. How admirable is the one who exhibits the genius of righteously using possessions rather than being in servitude to them.
Wisdom dictates that the success, esteem, or worth of an individual life is not to be measured upon a scale either of material possessions or of any other external acquisition. During this season of harvest, one ought to recall what Our Lord so strongly emphasized: True riches rest in the knowledge that God dwells within one. This truth is a treasure of inestimable value; a fortune laden with divine possibilities. Empowered by that Spirit, one's legacy might be that of a spiritual guide, a cherished friend, a wise counselor, and, as one might say, a person worth his or her salt.
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