Darren Pries-Klassen, Executive Director
From the Corner Office
Amidst the twinkling holiday lights, music, and pressure to spend, I find December often throws the disparity in our world into sharp relief. Here in Canada, the cost of living continues to rise. Jobs remain precarious for many. The prevalence of contract positions, lack of benefits, and low wages undermine financial security for many families. Yet, at the same time we are surrounded by tremendous prosperity. Skyrocketing real estate prices, a shifting economy, and a tech boom in recent years have brought incredible wealth to many others. Even now, municipal governments across the country are bidding to lure a tech giant to their cities in the hopes of enjoying another piece of that pie.
According to the United Nations World Food Programme, 815 million people in the world are starving and exponentially more suffer from malnutrition (www1.wfp.org/zero-hunger). At the same time weight loss is a multi-billion-dollar industry in North America. In this season of giving, how do we reconcile these stark opposites?
A common way of measuring wealth is to compare oneself to others. The measuring stick is external—my financial position and well-being is relative to the position and well-being of others. The problem of course, is who we choose to compare ourselves to. If I compare myself to celebrities and professional athletes I can easily make the case that I am poor, but if I compare myself to people in developing countries living on a dollar a day I am suddenly extravagantly wealthy. Comparisons like these are not helpful and rarely satisfying.
The Power of Enough
Not having enough and having too much both have their own problems. If I am lacking, I am consumed with worry about fulfilling my basic needs and those of my family. If I have too much, I am tempted to live without gratitude, to become insulated in my own bubble of wants and false security. Somewhere between these two extremes is the point of enough. “Enough” is balance. The power of “enough” introduces a new measuring stick: contentment.
The Lens of Contentment
When I examine my life through the lens of contentment, comparisons and categories fall away. The lens of contentment requires a new set of questions to determine ones “wealth.” Do I have enough to eat? Do I have a place to live? Do I have a community of love and support? Do I have an attitude of gratitude? Do I live with hope in all its forms? If I have these things, I have enough. I don’t need more. Indeed, I am wealthy. The lens of contentment means I no longer compare myself to others. Contentment means I can relax. Contentment is enough, and enough gives me the freedom to live selflessly for others.
As we prepare to celebrate another Christmas, I invite you to share with us the power of enough in your life, and how it has helped you live more generously.