The Luxury of Luxury

Aug 14

The Luxury of Luxury

MANY CHILDREN ARE HOMELESS AND HUNGRY in our nation. Knowing this, is it morally ethical for us to host big, expensive weddings for our children, go on vacation, or even go to a movie or buy new shoes? Where do we draw the line? What is our social responsibility to other human beings? Do we have the luxury of luxury?

            Throw this question into the hat at your next Saturday Salon and you’ll be surprised at the diversity of answers, many of them strident. Here are some sample responses. Each person gets a chance to answer the questions and give their opinion, then passes the Talking Stick to the next person. In a Saturday Salon, you don’t argue, but you are free to passionately disagree when it’s your turn to talk. Which answers strike a chord with you? What would you say if the Talking Stick were passed to you?

“Hi, my name is Amy. To me, it’s simple. Their parents should take care of those kids. Why aren’t they working and holding down jobs? You shouldn’t have kids if you can’t take care of them. My going to a movie or going without air conditioning isn’t going to help them anyway. Government shouldn’t do the job of parents.”

“I agree parents have the main responsibility, but not all parents are responsible. I don’t think kids should have to suffer because their parents won’t or in many cases, can’t, find or hold down a job. I have heard some Native American tribes consider wealth to be a sickness. They believe that all resources should be shared. They believe everyone should have enough to meet their needs. Beyond that, why would you want to accumulate ‘stuff’? This question is motivating me to take another look at my own life and streamline.”

“Well, we don’t live in tents anymore, Bob. I don’t think Julie would live in one, anyway. (Julie is Bob’s wife. Group laughs at the idea of her living in a tent. The woman wears makeup to the grocery store.) They weren’t better people back then, they just couldn’t lug extra stuff around. They were nomads. Here’s my answer: A lot of those poor kids come from illegal immigrant parents. Yes, I feel sorry for them, but if we keep taking care of their kids for them, and giving their kids automatic citizenship just for being born here, illegal immigrants will keep pouring across the border. Americans are pushovers! This has got to stop. It seems cruel, but we’re not doing these kids any favors by encouraging illegal immigration. If we stopped paying for health care, housing, and free school for these kids, their parents wouldn’t keep coming. It’s as simple as that.”

“It’s not the kids’ fault. Every child should be cared for. Period.”

“Hi, I’m Jared. I agree. Maybe their parents can’t find work, or lost their house like my friend’s parents did. I’m a student. I will buy a homeless guy a hamburger, but I barely have enough money to take care of myself. I think the best way to help is to work towards solving the reasons we have these issues in a country as wealthy as ours. When I graduate and get a job, I am planning on donating money towards supporting candidates and legislation that solves the underlying issues. Right now, I have to focus on getting through school. I can’t help anyone if I don’t help myself first. I also work part time.”

“My being miserable isn’t going to help the poor. They’re poor for a reason, and it’s not my fault. I’m tired of being made to feel guilty by rich liberals.”

“I hear you, Sharon, I don’t think feeling guilty solves anything. I don’t have a clear answer – for me, it’s all about balance. I give some, I also enjoy my life. Really, this question gets to the heart of this year’s election issues. I am not rich, but I’m definitely a liberal. I like the Democratic Socialism idea from Bernie Sanders’ campaign: I want the freedom to be entrepreneurial – the incentive to be creative and get ahead for my family, but I also think everyone’s basic needs for housing, shelter, health care, and education should be met before I spend a dime on luxury items for myself. I just think that’s morally the right thing to do. I try to live that way, but I am sure I fall short.”

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