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Emails to my Therapist

Do We Have to Hide (or Avoid) Success to Be Good People?

Just learned of Faithful America and hit Like, and I'm delighted to find this force for good:  (The slogan is:  "We are all in this together.  Our faith compels us to act.  End poverty.  Restore community. Uphold the common good.") 

Of course, my first move on finding the website was to comment there on the one item that I have reservations about.  Here's a slightly adapted version of what I wrote:

I agree 99%, as it happens, with what I see.  The exception: The references to the verse about not serving God and money can easily seem to argue against financial success. 

A lot of people of our persuasion are suspicious of both money and success.  I think that does us harm.  Money can be earned honestly and used well.  Money can elect liberal Democrats and send planeloads of food.  After spending some months in India, I think most Americans are wealthy, even with our struggles, worries, and financial pressures.  Most of us are trying to meet standards that much of the world never gets in sight of. 

There is certainly a difference between serving money — and earning and using money well.  I don't quarrel with that at all.   But it's a distinction that's very often ignored.

I think we err to the degree that we automatically mistrust a potential resource for good or question the character of every person who succeeds financially.   It puts people in the position of hiding success — sort of like hiding one's intelligence in school because of social pressure, or playing down one's strength and competence if one is female.  And that winds up being wasteful.

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  • Julie Davis
    June 14, 2012 at 4:57 am Reply

    Peggy,  I know that you have written books about spirituality and the healing power of doing good.  As a non-bold person, I sometimes worry that my writing is selfish and that I should devote my free time to doing "good works."  Yet in my heart I know that my dharma is writing, wether or not I get published.
    Since I work full-time, I guard my personal time and don't get involved in many things.  My "good works" mostly consist of trying to make people's day with a smile, a joke, or the ultimate gift, listening.  I think (hope) this is pleasing to God.

    • June 14, 2012 at 7:06 am Reply

      I’m convinced you’re doing the right thing, Julie. I probably have a bias because you’re doing the same thing I am.

  • Stephanie
    June 14, 2012 at 12:05 pm Reply

    I think you are abosolutely right about us overlooking the difference between serving money and earning and using money well.  Money's a tool: not a goal, not a measure. Years ago, I heard Gloria Steinem say 'if you want to work for world peace, raise happy children' – it's the simple, everyday things we do that add up, send out ripples and make changes.

    • June 14, 2012 at 2:33 pm Reply

      Thanks, Stephanie. And I do agree about the importance of the everyday things, though I don’t always find them so simple.

  • June 21, 2012 at 11:33 am Reply

    The thing about money is that the more you have, the more you need. There's the keeping up with the Joneses or Kardashians or whomever that eggs that tendency on. But yes, with a higher purpose, it can be handled… very tough.

    • June 21, 2012 at 3:45 pm Reply

      I think money is as good as what we do with it. I’m happy not to try to keep up with the Kardashians, Mohadoha.

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