The Cost of a Life

$420 can buy half a year of cable television.
Or a fancy family photo shoot.
Or a round trip ticket from Buffalo, NY to Little Rock, AR.

$420 can purchase froyo dates twice each month for a year.
Or two tickets to a Seahawks game (eight tickets to a Bills game).
Or a coffee at Tim Horton's twice a week for a year.
Or a new ipad.

$420 can buy 10 cheap, 2 hour dates (including babysitting).
Or half a year of monthly mani/pedi salon visits.
Or one day's admission for a family of four to the Happiest Place on Earth.
Or a year of school supplies, medical care, and food for an impoverished child.  

$420 is the difference between life and death for many children in the developing world.  Yet we, as Americans, waste that amount on all sorts of absurdities.  Worse, we have a long list of justifications and "don't judge me" attitudes that prevent us from re-evaluating our daily decisions.

We defend our right to diversion.  To entertainment.  To self- and family-worship.  This is the land of the free, after all.  Undoubtedly, we are free to make decisions for which we will one day give an account to God.  But as we exercise our freedom, we are (consciously or not) turning our backs on the needs of billions who live in poverty.

This should not be. As I was considering our family expenditures over the past few months, the following passage (II Corinthians 8) kept coming to mind:

"Our desire is not that others might be relieved while you are hard pressed, but that there might be equality. At the present time your plenty will supply what they need, so that in turn their plenty will supply what you need. The goal is equality, as it is written, 'The one who gathered much did not have too much, and the one who gathered little did not have too little.' "

Do I truly desire to live this way? In a way that promotes global equality? Or do I glibly acknowledge the suffering of others, while enjoying the nonsense of unnecessary expenditures?

Could I do without cable? Do I need yet another picture of myself, my husband or my family in a magazine-like setting? Could I drive instead of fly? Do we really need dessert, someone else to pour our coffee (for a 800% mark up), or new electronic devices? Could I paint my nails at home? Or maybe trust that God made my nails satisfactory au natural?

These are hard questions. But the answers to these questions, while non-critical to us, may be vital to others. Back to Second Corinthians. Have I gathered much? Yes.  Do I have too much? Almost certainly. This means that someone, somewhere, may have too little... simply because I am not living with open hands.

This is a sobering thought, indeed. Life is not nearly as cheap as my daily decisions often suggest.


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