28 February 2013

Being and Having

Of course, the difference between "being" and "having," the danger inherent in a mere multiplication or replacement of things possessed compared to the value of "being," need not turn into a contradiction. One of the greatest injustices in the contemporary world consists precisely in this: that the ones who possess much are relatively few and those who possess almost nothing are many. It is the injustice of the poor distribution of the goods and services originally intended for all. 
Sollicitudo Rei Socialis, 28

There is a two-fold problem within what is perhaps America's favorite heresy, the continual mixing up of "being" and "having."  

In the first way, when we reduce ourselves (being) to merely our possessions (having), we do violence to our own persons.  We denigrate ourselves before the Living God who has willed us into being.  By attaching our own self-value to mere possessions, we thus entangle ourselves with a constant need for activism and commit the primordial, seminal sin: that of grasping (see: Adam; also, Eve).  

At the same time, by confusing "being" and "having," we also devalue those around us who do not have what we have.  Yes, indeed, by demarcating those around us as "haves" and "have-nots" we play into our own petty desires to structure our entire lives in such a way as to be present to those who have the same physical interests, rather than spiritual.  

In other words: let us pray with the poor, rather than purchase with the pampered.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I think Eddie Vedder put it very well when he wrote "Society":
It's a mystery to me
We have a greed with which we have agreed
And you think you have to want more than you need
Until you have it all, you won't be free

Society, you're a crazy breed

If you've never seen the movie "Into the Wild" you should check it out. That song is on the soundtrack.

Chris J