I received an email this week from the 11:11 Progress Group which discusses the importance of our main purpose for existence: Growing closer to God (Creator/Her or Him/Love Within/Universe, however you view God). The writer says all humans have basic needs, which I count as adequate shelter, food, water, love, family and friends. We need no more than the basics he says, and advises it would be far better to let go of our desires for more things and focus on our spiritual lives.
I agree. Though I had to sell our home when I became ill and I was unhappy to move to an apartment, we have adjusted our outlooks. All of our basic needs are met and the tent city of homeless people in our town reminds me daily to feel grateful for what we have. I can’t imagine being homeless: The loss of a sense of safety, access to shelter (think of life without bathrooms alone), regular meals and water, plus health care and self-esteem, could be more than I could bear. And I don’t think I’d last long on concrete for a bed.
The email author goes on to say:
“The real price of these unsatisfied needs is that so many people never even consider the spiritual side of life because their physical suffering caused by their unmet needs prevents them from thinking about something else. How could a child think about spiritual progress when he is afraid for his life? How could a mother search for spiritual peace while watching her children die of hunger? And a life without spiritual growth is a wasted opportunity. It is like not ever really living.”
I have often wondered why so many people in the world go without the basics. Think of how those who have so much could offer a hand up, assisting those in need onto the path to basics, with their influence and wealth. I have also wondered why the vast majority of the wealthy don’t seem to care about people in dire straits. If they think they don’t have enough to share, imagine how it feels to care about others but work for minimum wage. Eight dollars an hour x 40 hours a week x 52 weeks comes to $16,640, before taxes. Could you do it? Would your personal survival struggles harden your heart toward others? (It took me a couple of years to get over a bad case of home-envy.) Did you know that the majority of donations to non-profit organizations are made by people with low-to-moderate incomes?
As I’ve aged, I have come to believe that our real job on Mother Earth is to know ourselves, to know God within. But stuff happens, like losing our jobs and then our homes which, with children, is about as painful as it gets. Poverty in America was defined the other night on the news as four people living on $25,000 a year. Are they kidding? That’s $6250 per person per year. I only have one child at home and we barely scrape by on $25,000 a year (with friends and family helping us when needed). With the rent, utilities, car (1998 Mazda) maintenance, gas and insurance, health insurance, co-pays for doctor appointments and medications, dental care, clothing, glasses, food and household products, dog food and vet care–add in the unexpected and it’s all gone.
I’ve learned a lot from my brush-with-poverty experiences, especially the lessons about gratitude, compassion for others, acceptance, and living in this moment, right now—not daydreaming about a better future. Our basic needs are met. I wish every person’s basic needs were met. Enough said.