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The Truth About the Fact: An International Journal of Literary Nonfiction

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The Truth About the Fact: A Journal of Literary Nonfiction is an international journal committed to the idea that excellence in the art of letters can play a vital role in transforming the planet we share.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Meals or Wheels

“The rich have a superfluous store of things which they do not need, and which are therefore neglected and wasted; while millions are starved to death for want of sustenance. If each retained possessions only of what he needed, no one would be in want, and all would live in contentment.”
- Gandhi

I wonder how many people consider what their things are worth. I’m not referring to direct monetary value or whether or not a ‘fair’ price was paid, I’m talking about how many meals one could get with the equivalent amount of money, how many mouths one could feed, and how many lives one could save AND sustain. I’m talking about what things are worth in lives and whether or not the time you work, the energy you exude, and the desires you have give you the right to deprive another of what we might call the basic necessities of human life; of food, of clothing, of shelter. I’m talking about whether or not one’s unwillingness to moderate and to give back to the world which has provided a great deal of our petty things along with many of one’s own essentials will ever end. As it now stands – we’re raping life.

Not too long ago I was taking a walk around campus and came across something; it was a decent life, food, and clothing, perhaps even shelter for countless homeless around the world. It was greed and gluttony in the most elegant of forms. It was a brand new customized Lamborghini Murciélago; a four-hundred-thousand dollar vehicle. A two person mode of transportation which likely doesn’t get driven any more than forty miles at a time and at a speed which is limited by the hellish Los Angeles traffic. While it is a beautiful machine, its purpose is flawed. Nobody needs to spend (or should they spend) that obscene amount of money on anything, let alone something with such limited use. This is especially the case when it is put into prospective of the potential benefit it may bring to so many. Is this vehicle worth one thousand lives? Is it worth one life?

The real issue is that our society has adopted the idea that we have ‘earned’ this wealth. Many tend to think that others have so little due to their own inaction, lack of drive, or moral corruption. The primary cause for many however, is their lack of opportunities. No one individual’s work can be worth such a great deal more than another's because (as our society maintains) all of our lives are of equal value. There is no reason that one person can work hard and not be able to attain the basic necessities of human life. Yet we insist that a select few, who work perhaps equally as hard as the rest of the deserving world, 'earn' the obscene amounts of wealth they attain. Amounts which no human being ought to be entitled to.

By no means am I advocating asceticism or any other act involving the surrendering of all worldly possessions, I simply think that it is not right to claim that you own something, that you have earned something, that you deserve something that you can clearly survive without so long as others are forced to live the woefully deprived lives that they do; all due to a simple lack of opportunities and gross exploitation. Through this inequality, through this exploitation, we are denying multitudes their humanity. Through such great monetary disparity, we are denying them their humanity.

I would like to challenge anyone to spend an hour and question everything you do, everything you come in contact with and ask whether or not you actually need it, while considering the value it might hold elsewhere. Question your clothes. Question your jewelry. Question your hour-long shower. Question your writing utensils. Question your food. Question your air conditioning; just so long as at the end of that hour you are able to answer why there is any reason to continue raping the multitudes and denying millions their humanity.

I am being very hypocritical and may sound quite accusing, but this is by no means my intent. I have found it nearly impossible to fully purge myself of all of what I don’t need. It is difficult because it is near impossible to know where to draw the line, especially in the consumerist society so many of us have been raised in. My hope is not that you surrender all possessions, or even feel guilty in the least, just that you use moderation. When we can all begin this subtle change, the divide will begin to close, as will the currently deepening wounds humanity has inflicted upon itself.

Best wishes,
Samuel D. Hollin

1 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is very intresting writting from a person if this is the same Samuel D. Hollin I knew as a boy who's life goal was tho achive all the material possesions possible in one life time at any cost. What happened to change your views.

August 8, 2010 at 12:25 PM  

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