Living The Good Life Is Not Good In A Starving World

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I remember walking down the street in my fur coat a few years back and having someone ask me if I knew how many minks died for my fur. I stopped wearing fur. I stopped because I did not need it, it was a luxury, it was a sign that I had made it – it was ego food. I understood the question. Now, with the world so small, and the suffering so great – so unavoidable – I wonder if we should not feel the same sense of responsibility that we feel for helpless animals, for helpless humans.

There was a time when your choices were beautiful sparkling diamonds or dull glass. It made some sense, if even in a superficial way, to want a diamond. But today, there are faux diamonds that cost a fraction of the cost and sparkle with equal brilliance – so one has to ask oneself why buy the diamond? What is it’s value in our world today? What if you have a ten thousand dollar diamond, trade it in for a one thousand dollar cubic zirconium and give the nine thousand dollars that you have left to buy mosquito nets for children in Africa? Then your diamond would have value., it would show much more than what you can afford to have, it would show what you are willing to give. Wouldn’t it be cool, rather than wearing a five thousand dollar blouse that says you are filthy rich, wearing a five-dollar tee shirt that says, “The money I planned to spend on a blouse is feeding a village in India”. How cool would you be?

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Bling says to the world, “I am wearing this because I can afford it and I have nothing better to do with it than waste it on show”. Yes, it just does. No one can watch the homeless and displaced, the diseased and dying in this country and around the world and then spend thousands of dollars on things, which announce, “It’s about me”. Not today. Today we don’t need to spend thousands, millions of dollars on precious gems in order to sparkle. We can spend a fraction of that on semi-precious gems, give the rest to those in desperate need and not only sparkle from the gems, but glow from the heart. I believe that today it would be much more satisfying to wear something that doesn’t say “I have made it because I can afford to drip in diamonds” but something that says, “I have made it because I can afford to feed a village”. The oohs and ahhs are much greater today and much more long lasting when you show what you give rather than what you wear.

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If our success in a profession is measured by the amount of money that we are paid, that is ok, if we understand that our true worth is measured by what we give. The point is that there is no need for bling today, it doesn’t look better than faux bling, but trading that bling in for heart does look better. We cannot outlaw bling anymore than we can outlaw fur, but it would be nice to ask someone dripping in bling, “How many children’s bellies could be filled by those earrings?” “How many villages could be educated against AIDS with that ring?” And perhaps, while we are at it, we should ask ourselves how much does it cost to make a house a home, and how many children can we give a home to for the price of a ten million dollar house?

I am not advocating ego denial. I am advocating a sense of satisfaction that not only feeds the ego but also feeds the soul. Trust me, it feels better to give to give to children in Somalia than it does to give to salespeople in Harry Winston, Proving to a child that faith has reason, God is alive and that there are angels is so much more gratifying than the stares you get from sparkling down the street in jewels. And who could honestly say that a tour of a mansion you built could hold a candle to a tour of the hospital you built in a village that has not even seen a doctor. Save a mink, don’t buy fur, Save a child, don’t buy bling.