Everywhere I look I see the ideas and paradigms, from which I have tried to break away, being projected in front of my face, as though teachers were standing over me with a stick, pointing out the ways I am failing by not conforming to the norm, I feel pressured to put off, even abandon, this foolhardy crusade. Discouragement sets in as I apparently stand still while everyone around me continues to work normal jobs, provide adequate means for themselves, and move forward in life. Months have gone by and I haven’t earned a cent. I haven’t even settled on a decent plan of action. What would make my situation attractive to anyone? What have I to offer society? Am I really working towards something or have I just stepped out of the stream, letting everyone go on ahead? I have no proof that I am going in the right direction to reach what I would call success. As I listen to certain messages coming up all around me, I begin to feel like this pursuit isn’t quite as important as I had imagined. I can’t tell if this is just me losing focus on my original vision or whether I am beginning to see things in a clearer light. What does the word of the Lord say? Trust not in the arm of the flesh. The rich cannot enter the Kingdom of God… Do these scriptures say that to have riches is bad? Job had quite the fortune, and after all was said and done, ended up with several times what he had before. Lehi was a respected and wealthy man. King Solomon was at one point the richest man in the world. Abraham, Joseph, were these men poor in the eyes of men? No. These examples trump the deduction that those who have material wealth are evil and will be damned. Of course, neither is wealth necessary for salvation. The world is full of people who find joy in life even though poverty afflicts them every day of their life. Will money make me happy? Not in itself, or I would do anything for money. Can I buy happiness and success? No. Why then is money important to me? I don’t want to have to stress and worry about paying bills. I want to be able to be there for my spouse and children, to teach and help and play with them instead of existing solely to bring groceries. They might as well be on food stamps if that were all I was good for. I want to be able to make a difference in people’s lives. I feel like I cannot do that as an average Joe. Why do I feel like this is too easy and too hard at the same time? I had decided to not follow the 97%. I will not go out to get a job to support myself. It’s not that I can’t. I feel confidant that I could get a job most anywhere on minimum wage. There are places that take just about anyone, I am able-bodied and plenty qualified. I feel like I could even get a job without a resume, but so far I haven’t felt it necessary to attempt. I will work for someone to help them out. I guess the real test is whether I can work for others without monetary compensation.
If I were in that situation… I would hit the books.
Having lived in Guatemala for two years and traveled to other third world countries, I have been deeply impressed by the role of ignorance in third world countries. The direct connection, in my personal view, between a prospering country (or in this case, a prospering individual or family) would be their ability to learn and apply that knowledge to their everyday lives. Not only would it be a fight against ignorance though, but also culture… it seems that humanity is comfortable with their present lives, change is often thought of as being hard, evil, or even not worth the time. Yet I believe, that like the chameleon that changes its colors depending on its circumstances, we as humans also need to learn how to change in order to achieve a better life.
it would definitely be an uphill climb for quite a while, but having changed in the past, it would be worth it.
Recently I spoke to a man who grew up in a family where hundreds of thousands of dollars changed hands on a daily basis. Money was certainly not a problem for them. I mentioned my ideas to him about how the way we think and understand things affects our circumstances.
I asked if he had observed something different about the way his family thought and did things. He thought for a minute and then said that he had. He said that most of his friends got an allowance each week. He asked them what an allowance was, they said that it was money that they got from their parents each week. He asked what they did to earn it. They said they didn’t have to, that it was what their parents owed to them. ??? He mentioned how his father would give him and his siblings money but always in return for work. This was nothing new to me, I had to work for every cent that I received.
He also said that his father talked about the role of risk and how there is no gain without risk. I found that interesting. I had no concept of risk in relation to money. Only recently have I begun to understand how value can be created through strategic use of risk. That is where I need to investigate more thoroughly in the near future.
The man is now a Real Estate salesman, making million dollar deals on a regularly. He found that he was good at and enjoyed sales when he was in high school selling subscriptions for school publications. So he worked at a few different firms and eventually started his own business. He is doing very well, from what I have observed.
It makes me wonder what other things people learn in their youth which leads them to make winning decisions throughout their life.
Female, age 49:Maintain furniture, save up for paint, toilet seat, grow garden, bring flowers into the house, find ways to make extra money, sell television, Save portions of food and money over time, scavenge for useful items to use around the house: shelving, flower pots, blocks, boards. collect books. Use whatever I could get my hands on to make things more comfortable. Use time otherwise spent watching TV to do something useful and productive.Male, age 24:I would move. I would take my family and do everything I could to either move to the country, or out of the country. My goal would be to homestead if I couldn’t get into America. But I wouldn’t stay in the city, or the country if I could help it. Heck, if they can homestead somewhere where it’s mostly winter, then I can homestead in Mexico.Female, age 27:I would go to a paca and buy sheets or cloth to cover the furniture and maybe the walls. I would save up for a toilet seat, (however I have lived several weeks without one and it’s not so bad ;P). I’m not too worried about how to flush the toilet either. I would pipe water from the rotoplast on the roof to the bathroom and save up money for a heating shower head, obviously I have electricity because of the television, hot showers are nice, unless you are in somewhere hot. I might even sell the television, even though it would be hard (sniff). In a 3rd world country things are cheaper, so even though I would be earning only a dollar a day, I could still make ends meet, (if I ration my money properly, heh, heh!)Female, age 18:That sounds absolutely miserable, but at least you are entertained. Good grief, sounds actually pretty good for a third world country considering you actually have a house even if it is unfinished. Sounds dark and dreary and very tedious and unjust. I earn 7 dollars an hour and I don’t think I have enough to pay my own rent, given I have never tried or calculated how much a rent would cost or how much I would earn each month and how much of it would go to paying the rent. In short it doesn’t sound so good and I definitely would want to improve on my situation or get out of there. The camper is bad enough when it comes using a restroom you have to dump out, or rinse by hand. I could go on for ever about this but I have to go to bed so for now it would not be that great. Seriously, sell the TV and by a new toilet, though easier said then done, but seriously.Male, age 52:Sell the television and work harder and smarter. Call upon the Lord to inspire you to increase your ability to provide, go to the mall and steal a toilet seat, and thank the Lord that you had a roof over your head, unfinished as it was.Female, age 20:First of all I would look for other ways for income, any way possible within reason. Then I would sell the TV and use the profit towards bills and food. Then I would continue with life, saving the extra income I got and would buy a library card so I would be entertained (by going to the library, not from the card alone). Continuing with life, I would continue to save and put the money towards what I needed, until I became a millionaire.Female, age 19:Honestly how does one get into such a state? First off, sell the TV who needs that kind of garbage any way? Then get a better job. Or visa verse. Once you get enough money saved, or just enough money, get food, clothes and either a better house or start working on this one. Get a book on budgeting, plant a garden be creative for crying out loud! Think of ways to save money, do things yourself. Who needs the government to take care of you? That’s how one gets there in the first place. (sheesh.)Male, age 19:Well, the first thing I would do is pray for help and guidance to get me through. Usually my response to this kind of question would be something along the lines of, “Well, I would start by saving up 1,000 dollars in cash as an emergency fund, then building the nest, and slowly utilizing my resources and investments,” but in this situation there is a sense of hopelessness. I would study on how to work the system in Mexico, and then if all else failed do everything I could to make my way to the United States.Male, age 21:I would definitely change. I have seen it so I changed a bit but all priorities and sense of duty and fun would be altered forever. Every time you wake up after that your thoughts would be on making sure that all is well for the family you love so much. I would use what I know about being smart financially and make the best of it while always trying to improve my circumstances. One fear I would have is letting the situation bring out the worst in me, but that is why I would cling to the gospel.
I like to read books that make me think. I always have a notebook or a scrap of paper handy so that I can capture any ideas that come to me. On one of these moments I thought about how someone from a middle class lifestyle would react if he were to be placed in a third world situation. I wrote out a situation with which I was familiar from my two years serving a mission in Mexico.
Here is the situation and what follows is a collection of responses.