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03/01/2022 05:42:01 PM

Mar1

Are we doing enough to share our blessings with others?

Amos 6:4-6
Alas for those who lie on beds of ivory,
    and lounge on their couches,
and eat lambs from the flock,
    and calves from the stall;
who sing idle songs to the sound of the harp,
    and like David improvise on instruments of music;
who drink wine from bowls,
    and anoint themselves with the finest oils,
    but are not grieved over the ruin of Joseph! 

In this passage, the prophet Amos addresses the rich who live "at ease" in Zion, who "feel secure" in Samaria, the northern kingdom of Israel (v. 1). He invites them to take a lesson from surrounding nations. They should not presume that they are better than other people, or that they will not be held accountable for their behavior (vv. 2-3).
Religious prophets decrying the excess of the rich is nothing new. These days prophets may not be speaking but social media and public outcry can be very deafening. Consider a recent brouhaha:
In Rotterdam, The Netherlands, the huge seaport, there is 417-foot, known as Y721, that was commissioned by billionaire Jeff Bezos. Constructed by superyacht shipbuilder Oceanco, the Y721 price tag came to around $485-500 million. Operation of the vessel could cost $100 million annually. Some say it is the biggest yacht in the world.

Jeff Bezos' sailing yacht Oceanco Y721

The protests about Y721 arose when news broke of plans to temporarily disassemble the middle portion of the historic Konigshaven bridge, known to locals as De Hef bridge. Originally a railway bridge, De Hef's midsection can be lifted to permit ships to pass beneath it, but it only allows for roughly 130 feet of clearance. That height is insufficient to allow the superyacht's three aluminum and steel 229-foot masts to pass under the bridge that stands between the shipyard where it's being built and open water. 
Some members of the public couldn't resist the urge to try to find a solution to Bezos' logistical problem. One thought a helicopter could lift the colossal yacht out to sea. Another suggested that Bezos just wait for a massive flood on the scale of the one that lifted Noah's ark from dry land to deep water. Some protested, "Why should people with little to no money feel obligated to solve a mega-billionaire's self-created problem?"
This is not the first time Bezos has been the object of ire from social media users. Last summer, tens of thousands of people signed online petitions requesting that the wealthy magnate not return to Earth after his launch into space aboard his Blue Origin rocket. "Billionaires should not exist," declared one petition, "On Earth, or in space, but should they decide the latter they should stay there."
Some questions to consider: 
Why is it so easy to resent those who we think flaunt their status with what we view as ostentatious in-your-face displays of wealth?
What business is it of ours how the rich spend their money?
How much is "enough"? At what point are we content with what we have, and put our excess funds into something else, like building hospitals or schools, funding medical clinics or research, working to end poverty and hunger, cleaning up the planet, etc.? (Questions and topic suggested by The Wired Word.)
The Bible – as in here with the prophet Amos – tells us that our choices about spending are not only our business but also involve God. Another way to think about it is to consider columnist David Brooks’ question: Are we living our resume or our eulogy? In other words, on our deathbed – surrounded by family – do we sigh and say, “I wish I had built a bigger boat”? And if not, then how can we do more now to share our good fortune with others instead of literally at times destroying obstacles in our way?
Especially in a time of so many crises, are we doing enough to share our blessings with others or are we, too, seduced by the idea that our good fortune will protect us from the world at large.

Sat, September 24 2022 28 Elul 5782