Sunday, May 3, 2020

What Motivates Us in a Time of Need?

I am doing quite well, at the moment.

This pandemic, and the resulting economic strains, it has put on some people has not affected me the way it has many others. I have been collecting OAS and CPP along with the guaranteed income supplement, so my income has not changed. The fact that I am getting the supplement shows that I am in the lowest bracket for those who depend on those age benefits, but it is enough and I believe I am living better than I ever did while employed. I have always lived below the poverty line, but I have never faced starvation and was only homeless for short periods. When it comes to government handouts, I am satisfied with what I have, and I really do not need more. At a time of crisis, let us concentrate on everyone having enough before we go on demanding more.

It seems that a time of crisis brings out the best and the worst in people. Many are working hard to bring this crisis under control. People are struggling and others are helping. People are risking death to keep others from dying. Some are doing without so others will have enough. These are the selfless ones that put others before themselves.

On the other side, we see the greedy. These ones are only concerned with their own well being and could care less if you starve or die of the pandemic. They are the ones who have earned and saved enough, often at the expense of those less fortunate, that they can now afford to go out and hoard goods so they will have plenty at a time of shortage. This action has effected a shortage, so they have caused the event that they prepared themselves for. Our economy is based on supply and demand, so, when demand is high, prices will naturally increase. The ones who could not afford to hoard will now have to pay higher prices if they can get their supplies at all. Manufacturers will benefit from this as the public turns from asking, “Can I get this at a good price?” to “Can I get this?” In this way, we see money siphoned from the poor into the hands of the rich.

Greed also appears among many as they attempt to seek financial benefit from the pandemic. If others are getting aid, they feel they are also entitled, although they do not really need it. It seems strange that those forced out of employment should get more from staying home than those on a fixed income, but, perhaps, their needs are greater. Since I live on a fixed income, I am renting a townhouse with low rent that is within my means. Someone who is paying a much higher rent, or paying off a huge mortgage, may be at risk of losing their homes. They may need temporary help in dollar amounts more than my fixed income. Perhaps, when they are back working again, they should be required to pay a little back each week, but first, let us get through this crisis and see where we stand at that time.

One common thing about people who have succeeded in the financial world is that they tend to turn setbacks into opportunities. Perhaps we do the same with a pandemic. If I start a charity to help those in need, I will look like I am a great guy, and I can pocket some cash myself. That sounds like a win, win situation. Therefore, many false charities arise that earn a lot of money for the charity, but very little gets to the people who need it. This is the epitome of greed. These are ones who take advantage of the disadvantaged for personal gain.

For everything, there is a purpose. Many times, we do not realize what is happening until we analyze it later. During a crisis, our energies are bent on ending the crises. After it is over, we can take time to reflect on what we have learned from it. If we learn our lessons well, the test will not need to be repeated. Unfortunately, humans can be slow learners, and it will take many disasters before we learn our lessons. My greatest fear is that we will not learn what we must at this time and other pandemics, much worse than this one, will fall upon us.

Scripture has foretold of times like these. As I was writing about how this crisis is bringing out the best and the worst of human nature, I could not help but think of the following scripture.

    When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left. Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, “Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: For I was an hungered, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.”
    Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, “Lord, when saw we thee an hungered, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?”
    And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.”
    Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, “Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: For I was an hungered, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not.”
    Then shall they also answer him, saying, “Lord, when saw we thee an hungered, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee?”
    Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, “Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me.” And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.       (Matthew 25: 31-46)
God already knows our hearts. This dividing is for our benefit. By looking within our own hearts, we learn of our true nature, and, if we are wise, we will learn from it before it is too late. We must examine our every action and determine our motivation for such action. Are we working toward self-benefit or are we doing what needs to be done to help everyone? Are we willing to sacrifice to help others or do we expect others to sacrifice for our benefit? Do we see ourselves as individuals or are we a part of a greater whole?

This is not meant to be an easy test where everyone passes. It is tough and it will determine if we have made the grade.