Sunday, January 30, 2011

"I want to live in America, where even the poor are fat." ~ source unknown

Last Sunday, the sermon was on wealth and materialism. My pastor compared American definitions of wealth and poverty to those of people in 3rd-world countries. And, just like any other American churchgoer, I hate those sermons.

My mental rationalizations always go the same way: I give to charities; I volunteer with homeless ministries; I don't make anywhere near a lot of money; I can barely pay my own bills.

But, then I look around myself. I'm typing this on an Acer brand laptop. Not the nicest brand in the world, but one of two laptops we own, with another desktop computer in the house. To avoid the inconvenience of stationary computers, the whole house is set-up with wireless hi-speed internet (but we really save from bundling it with our cable and DVR service).

My son is sitting in my lap snacking on some bran flakes, and his little tummy is pudgy with them (and not abdominal muscles distended from starvation). In a few minutes, I'll let him choose out of several outfits what he would like to wear to church, and I'll pack an extra in his personalized diaper bag. (I'll pride myself on the frugality which caused me to buy his name-brand clothes secondhand or on clearance, as opposed to at full price in the nicer stores.) I'll strap him into an Eddie Bauer carseat in a car I bought new just a few years ago (but it's only a Nissan), and we'll head to church.

This same precious little boy of mine, was born early, jaundiced and with a heart murmur. But I live in a country of plenty, to the point where doctors were able to lay him beds that made artificial sunlight and broke down the toxins his little liver couldn't handle. Insurance allowed me to take him to pediatric cardiologists who could scan his heart and tell exactly where the small opening was that caused the murmur.

So, yes, I am very, very rich, and I am so very grateful. I was looking at a chart comparing birth rates amongst countries. Based on population, the likelihood for my son and I to have been born in, India, for instance, is over three times greater than the chance that we would be born in America. It's over four times as likely for a soul to be born in China.

It's only slightly less likely to be born in Indonesia, where children are more likely to make toys than to play with them.

So while I don't believe that America is perfect, and I may not agree with every decision made by its elected officials, there is no place in the world I would rather be. And rather than feel arrogant about my country's material superiority, I feel blessed that God would be so kind as to let me live here.

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