* to encourage a reasoned awareness of how our beliefs impact the way we interact with the world around us
* to foster intelligent and open dialogue
* to inspire a sense of spirituality that has real meaning in day-to-day life

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The Fear of Not Having Enough: Challenging the Scarcity Thinking of Genesis 13

I've mentioned that fear can keep us from recognizing the truth, beauty, and creativity within ourselves and other people in various ways.  It crops up again in Genesis 13, in a way that has created conflicts that have spanned generations.
Fear can also lead us to dig in our heels about issues of entitlement.  Whether we think we deserve something because we have worked hard for it, because someone made a promise to us, or because we deem it unfair that someone else should have something we don’t, a sense of entitlement is a sure way to work against the truth and beauty within us.  It may be a salary range, a particular car, a specific-size house, or a piece of land.  It could even be a designer purse or pair of shoes or a piece of electronic wonder.  Believing that we are entitled to it, whatever it is, can be an incredible roadblock to happiness.

One problem is that we seem never to have enough.  If we get the house we want, we need a bigger one.  If we get the land we want, we need more of it.  If we get the toys we want, we need the newer model.  And when we treat people like possessions, it works the same way.  Whatever it is that we believe we are entitled to have ultimately fails to satisfy us completely.

Here is a difficult truth, if only because it seems so harsh: Life is not fair.  Some people have more and some people have less.  Some people get sick and some people stay well.  From the outside looking in, it seems that some people have it easy and some people can’t catch a break.  There are some things we can do to improve our chances of getting what we want in life.  Insisting that our lives be different out of a sense of fairness isn’t one of them.

Not only is life not fair, life does not make any promises.  Even if parents and teachers and ministers and authors told us differently, there are no actual guarantees about what we will have or what we will lose in the course of our lives.  People who work hard often get the income they want, but not always.  People with healthier diets sometimes live longer, but not all of them.  There is no secret formula that will ensure with 100% certainty that our lives will be what we want them to be, as individuals or as a people.

There is good news in all of this, even though no one is really entitled to anything and even though there are no guarantees.  There is enough.  When we engage our innate sense of deep truth, beauty, and creativity, there is enough of whatever it is that we want.  There is enough land.  There is enough food.  There is enough money.  There is enough.  Certainly, there are some commodities that are scarce, but the things that are necessary are plentiful.  We may lack sufficient crude oil for all that we would like to do, but we do not lack sources of energy.  Recognizing opportunities and abundance simply requires a different baseline premise.

If we begin with the premise that a divine being made a promise to someone thousands of years ago, and that we are entitled to reap the benefits of that promise, immediately we run into trouble.  Other people may have just as much of a sense of entitlement as we do, and both sides may go to great lengths to defend that belief, with neither side being able to offer any real evidence toward the validity of their claim.

If, on the other hand, we begin with the premise that there is plenty, we then get to engage our creativity in an entirely different way.  We are capable of creating a multitude of solutions to any challenge of resources, but a sense of entitlement unavoidably limits what we can create.  When we start off accepting that no one is entitled to anything, no matter who they are or what promises may have been made, our true strengths as human beings have an opportunity to shine.  There is not only a way for everyone to have access to what is necessary, there is certainly a way for everyone to have access to what is desirable, if only we are willing to seek it out and engage our minds and actions in creating it.

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