Too much or too little
Are our lives subject to the vagaries of the market?
"Turning wealth into good works," a recent article in this newspaper, points out that the United States will see, in the next few decades, an unprecedented transfer of wealth, with an intergenerational transfer of at least $45 trillion by 2052 (June 11).
Some of these super-rich are turning to traditional and nontraditional philanthropic means to "pay back" society. On the other hand, some studies show that the yawning and ever-growing gap between rich and poor makes for a serious problem of hopelessness and frustration for the many at the bottom of the economic order. Some kind of balance seems necessary.
Economics classes teach the basics of the supply and demand curves, and that one should strive to be at the point where these are in balance. There are whole battalions of consultants who devote their efforts to maximizing the benefits – creating wealth while keeping costs down – all the time watching the supposed "invisible hand" of the market at work.
What I learned in these classes didn't seem secure to me. I wanted to know that my life wasn't subject to the vagaries of the market, worries by investors, or political coups abroad. I didn't want to be buffeted by bullish or bearish trends, either.
I turned to the Bible for inspiration, and found in Jesus' Sermon on the Mount the demand, "I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?" (Matt. 6:25).
This seems counterintuitive in today's society. Was Jesus really telling us, in this expression, "take no thought," to ignore these needs? Then I discovered that the Greek word is "to be anxious." Jesus' teaching, I believe, is not to ignore human needs, but to not be anxiety-ridden about them, allowing God to supply the need.
How to achieve this? Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of this newspaper, used the terms "supply" and "demand' only once in her major work, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures." She wrote of "the great fact that Mind alone enlarges and empowers man through its mandate, – by reason of its demand for and supply of power" (p. 199). This helped me understand that, spiritually viewed, supply and demand are both properties of the divine Mind, the one God.
The demand is for me, God's image and likeness, to express God's qualities in an ever-increasing way. This means finding the niche that God wants me to fill. As I expressed the God-like qualities of diligence, accuracy, and insight – and gave God, rather than myself, the credit – ways opened up for me to express goodness in giving to others.
This has taken various forms over the years, from volunteering in adult literacy programs, to donating money to save children in foreign lands, and even to adopting a few of them. I've given to our local area's food bank and contributed modestly to help the homeless.
Since turning all my efforts over to God, which means that I consciously try to express goodness in every activity, I find that the supply I need is there, and that there is a surplus that's useful to my fellow man. I'm neither one of the super-rich nor one of the 8 million Americans the Monitor article refers to. That's OK. As a middle-class guy who sometimes has to prioritize how money is spent, I have nevertheless gotten a rock-solid conviction that as I do good work – express God – I am also participating in the divine economy where demand and supply are in equilibrium.
God is able to make all grace abound toward you;
that ye, always having
all sufficiency in all things,
to every good work.
I Corinthians 9:8