There's magic in wealth --- when it is ignored. Remember Bilbo Baggin's mithril coat of armor (in Tolkien's Lord of the Rings), gathering dust for years in a museum and worth more than the whole Shire. Remember the Old North Australian farmers (in Cordwainer Smith's novels of the Instrumentality), simple farmers turned into billionaires by an accident of nature, and choosing to remain simple. Remember Sam Walton (in real life) eating a plain breakfast in a small-town diner with neighbors.

There's similar magic in other forms of wealth --- when they're ignored. Think of the impact that Albert Schweitzer had: organist, theologian, philosopher, physician, setting aside comfort to aid others in need. Remember your own best teachers, who could obviously have made more money or achieved greater fame had they forgotten about their students.

It's not necessary to squander one's gifts to do good --- but it seems somehow critical to forget them, or at least set them to one side, in order to see other people clearly ... and to make one's life meaningful by reaching out to them and helping them.

Saturday, January 15, 2000 at 07:32:13 (EST) = 2000-01-15


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