Sunday, April 17, 2016

How Much Is Enough?


How to understand the level of greed revealed by the Panama Papers, the Big Short, The Wolf of Wall Street? Rockefeller, the former richest man in America, gives a clue. When he was asked “How much money is enough?”, he answered,
“Just a little bit more.”
Easy to criticize this attitude when it comes to money. 12 yachts or mansions or Rolls Royce cars does not give more human health and happiness than 11 or 5 or 1 or even none. But if money is at the core of your soul life, why, it makes perfect sense. Human desire is infinite and let’s face it, we’re all restless and at least a little dissatisfied and always looking for “just a little bit more.” How much piano practice, how many books sold, how much love received or given is enough? Just a little bit more.
My blogs this month have leaned to the political side. Except for the grand pleasure of playing piano with my bass and sax buddies at the Palace Hotel last week, this is the part of me that keeps rising to the surface in the midst of national campaigns, books I’m reading, classes my daughter is teaching in 5th grade and this four-day trip to the South with the 8th graders.
(And let me be clear. It is a clear symptom of what we now call White Privilege that I have the luxury of deciding whether to think about or write about injustice. I take my responsibility to engage seriously, but still am aware that it’s wrong that it’s a choice for me and not for many of my fellow citizens.)
So I’m doing my best here to make these entries interesting, informative and inspiring, but I imagine it’s not that fun to read. It’s holding our feet to a fire that is just a little too hot for comfort. Like the kid on the bus who said, “Are we going to get to do anything fun on this trip?”, there’s only so much grief, sorrow, confrontation, courageous conversations that we frail humans can hold. Though every word I write is laced with hope and tries to steer away from shame and blame and despair, still it’s rough going. I imagine readers would be much more pleased to hear about the uplift the sight of flowering rhododendrons can give, some juicy gossip from the trip, the fun watching the Warriors win their first play-off game.
How much is enough? There is enough craziness and outrage in this world to justify every word of every conversation aimed toward healing. But I imagine my friends would start to move away from me if every conversation ended with a moral and call for action. I was so delighted to hear that one hour before he died, Martin Luther King had a pillow fight with his colleagues in his hotel room.
What’s my moral here? There’s room for it all. When the call to speak out or act comes, I am prepared to be ready. But meanwhile I hope to live in the full bounty of the moment and respond as the moment suggests. If it’s flowers, it might be praising their beauty, if it’s a coffee with a friend, it might be sharing some gossip, if it Warriors playoff game, it might be shouting and stomping.
So headed on the bus to Montgomery, may I simply say:
• The flowers are beautiful.
• Kevin has a crush on Whitney.
• Go Warriors!

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