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September 2, 2010

This post was originally published on Hard Rock Philanthropy in July 2007. Our culture has such a fixation with acquisition of consumable goods. Sadly, the pursuit of consumer-based happiness often enslaves the consumer, whether in debt, or in time required to maintain the goods and the corresponding lifestyle. It all gets in the way of redeeming your purpose.


A key player in the end of slavery in America was a former slave himself, Frederick Douglass. In his autobiography, Douglass wrote that ignorance was like chains around the ankles of his brothers and sisters in bondage. As a child he had been taught to read by the daughter of his master. As an adult Douglass sought to establish a Sabbath school to help fellow slaves to learn to read and write. This was not looked upon favorably by the slave owners. Knowledge inspired hope, and hope bred the desire for freedom. Slaves were often punished for attempting to become literate.

Sunday was the only day of rest allowed to the slaves. In order to hold them in check, their masters often made alcohol readily available for Sunday consumption. They knew that the immediate gratification of alcohol-induced euphoria could easily trump the delayed gratification promised by Douglass’s Sabbath school. Fortunately, Douglass and his cohort persisted and slavery ended with the Emancipation Proclamation and the Civil War.

There is nothing inherently wrong with alcohol. Research shows that it aids in digestion and that teetotalers are less healthy than moderate drinkers. Some people are predisposed to alcoholism, but the majority of the human race can learn to drink in moderation.

There is nothing wrong with money or prosperity, either. Money is not the root of all evil; rather the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil (1 Timothy 6:10, The Bible).

But just like alcohol, people need to be educated on how to handle prosperity responsibly. Otherwise they risk becoming slaves to money and the things it can buy. Love for money, or worship of money and the things it can buy, leads to destruction.

Our country (and all of Western Society) has fostered a culture of ignorance when it comes to financial management. How could our parents and grandparents have known that we would become so prosperous? Not having experienced it themselves, how could they have prepared us for such prosperity and the messages of immediate gratification that bombard us daily?

Not unlike the slave-owners, the American marketing machine does its best to nurture our ignorance. Like the American slaves of the 19th century, our natural tendency is to pursue the quick buzz at the expense of our enlightenment. We need a new emancipation movement.

I have a dream that there will come a day when individuals are not judged by the size and color of their SUVs, but by the depth of compassion in their hearts.

Copyright © 2007 Richard M. Potter. All Rights Reserved.

One Comment leave one →
  1. christina permalink
    September 2, 2010 2:54 pm

    Amen, and amen.

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