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  • Writer's pictureD. Randall Faro


      I wonder. In the sense, not of soul-stirring surprise, but of doubt. Doubt, in this case, meaning not completely understanding. Maybe not even understanding much at all.


      Some folk live day to day with joyful appreciation for simply having the necessities of life: food, shelter, clothing, and the companionship of family and friends. Modest extras and occasional measured vacations enhance life, and are valued for their addition to the daily grind . . . even when said grind is not seen as burdensome. While the degrees vary, many embrace Henry David Thoreau’s admission: “My greatest skill has been to want but little.” Undergirding this approach is generally something that provides meaning in life. They might have not even heard of Holocaust survivor Viktor Frankl’s little tome, Man’s Search for Meaning,” but they have found it in relationships or profession or connecting with the spiritual dimension of life . . . or whatever. The folk of which I speak experience, consciously or subconsciously, that life without meaning is death before the grave.


      Other folk seem to never be satisfied. Be it land, bank account, power, or plethora of possessions. Enough is simply not a discernable concept. The plight of others who struggle simply to stay alive is of little or no concern. It is a strain, if any thought at all, to focus on the needs of malnourished children on the other side of the tracks when one is shopping for another million-dollar house to add to the three already owned.


      The conundrum for me is identifying what factors produce which of the two different mindsets described above. In some instances there are discernable clues. In others, mystery reigns.


      A case in point. One of my dear departed friends was rich. Not Forbes 400 rich, but beyond well-to-do in terms of resources available. Yet he chose to live a distinctly moderate lifestyle. He could have lived in a home two or three times as large and luxurious, but was more than content with a relatively small house in a middle-class neighborhood. He could have driven top-of-the-line vehicles, but was content with well-worn but very serviceable models. I could go on with the descriptions. Suffice it to say my friend’s values produced humility, compassion, and a self-limiting care for others. (I also knew him well enough to know the source of his values.)


      Where the rubber of my wonderment meets the road involves the conundrum of why certain values are embodied by some and antithetical ones by others. Perhaps it would take a team of shrinks to begin formulating answers.

      Bottom line for me: endeavor to use every facet of critical thinking possible, every historical example, any spiritual discipline to foster and practice values that promote what one ancient sage termed fruits of the spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. If everyone built his/her life on that nine-pillar foundation, what a more wonderful world it would be.

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