"If Wealth is lost, nothing is lost. If Health is lost, then something is lost. If Character is lost then everything is lost" This is an adage that was hung atop my class VIII classroom. Being an idealist, I loved this saying and always read it on the way inside. As much as the saying was fixated on the individual, we can extrapolate it to communities too. In today's world, when we think of communities, we tend to unconsciously measure them on these scales. For example, the Parsis are renowned for their financial wealth and character, but doesn't rank high on health. Muslims rank high on health, but rank medium on wealth and low on character. The Sikhs are a community that has amply displayed its financial and health superiority but again rank mediocre on character. The Christians are one community that has consistently maintained their image as a community strong in wealth, health and character. But as is the case with individuals, societies can also face a downturn in these facets. Look at the US - prominent people are warning the nation on the 'epidemic' of obesity. Or look at Dubai - recently the epitome of economic vulgarity, the unchecked growth spiralled down when the world markets tanked. Or - i don't want to mince my words or look away from truth - look at the Catholic Church; once, and by and large even today, one of the greatest forces of good the world has ever seen, an entity composed of hundreds of millions of dedicated people committed to holiness, a spiritual nation intent on living the Christian life under the leadership of the Vicar of Jesus himself. But today the same institution has been rocked by scandals involving the shepherds themselves, by the creeping commercialization of its educational institutions and hospitals, and by the increasing distance of the laity from the Church. Yes my brothers and sisters, we are at an all time low in the St. Peter's Holiness Index. Not as low as the Dark Ages but the lowest in modern times.
Ours is a generation that sometimes laments that we have been cheated from any calls to greatness. In our sitting rooms we sigh that we don't have any great wars. We remorsefully discuss the lack of direction in our daily lives. Youth everywhere are grieving over the lack of purpose. And to this generation of wailing yuppies I say what Fr. Anthony DeMello S.J said - WAKE UP! Stop lulling yourself into a fantasy world of consumerist sleeping pills - a world where every small success has to be celebrated over tequilas and nachos; a world where every low moment has to be followed by a shopping spree or venti coffee or whiskey. WAKE UP - to a world that need you more than ever; a world that has much more to lose than it did 50 years back. Look around with open eyes - global warming, all consuming consumerism, institutional decadence, broken families, naive secularism, unrestrained sexuality, religious aggression and unchecked immigrant invasion. Any and all of these can lead to a destruction of Earth as we know it.
Well, enough of the doomsday prophesies. To quote Herbert Spencer, "The great aim of education is not knowledge but action". My aim too is not to present you with the snapshot of a bleak future, but to shake you up and exhort you to take ACTION to create a better future. So lets start from item on - wealth. I am not an economist and won't pretend to be a financial guru either; instead I will draw upon resources I found elsewhere to chalk a plan for a better future. One of my favourite blogs, and one I return to almost every week is The Simple Dollar - By Trent Hamm. And to start the journey to financial well being of our community, I suggest you start by his 14 Money Rules. Here I have just listed them down; you can click on them to read more about them and grow in financial strength.
Trent's 14 Money Rules
1. Spend Less Than You Earn.
2. Don't Over-Think Your Investments.
3. Stop Wasting Time.
4. Eliminate (and Avoid) High-Interest Debt.
5. Talk About Money (And Be Honest).
6. Stop Trying to Impress Other People.
7. Watch Your Progress (But Make It Fun).
8. Take Care of Your Things.
9. Do It Yourself.
10. Plan Ahead Every Time You Spend.
11. Find and Work Toward Your True Passions.
12. Build Real Friendships and Relationships.
13. Improve Yourself Every Chance You Get.
14. Give Without Strings or Regrets.
And if you don't want to do it for the community, at least go ahead and try it for yourself - trust me, you won't regret it in your lifetime!