Tuesday, December 3, 2013


"Don't gain the world and lose your soul. Wisdom is better than silver or gold." (Bob Marley)

I've never really had a strong and lasting desire for things. Every now and then I'll see something that I want and I'll really want it for a while. But it usually passes. I like silver more than I like gold, even though I know it isn't as valuable.

"Silver and gold, silver and gold, I'd rather have Jesus, than silver and gold. No fame or fortune, nor riches untold. I'd rather have Jesus, than silver and gold." (Kirk Franklin, Silver and Gold)

No, my lack of desire for things isn't borne of any religious belief, none that I can identify anyway. If I was forced to tie it, I would be more likely to tie it to Buddhism. Most people think that the Buddhist view of wealth is one in which it is renounced. But that's not really true. It's okay to have wealth, provided it is gained through right living. If one is exploiting others in order to gain riches, the wealth would be frowned upon. And once one has wealth, the expectation would be that one would freely dispense with it to help others. Getting too attached to material goods is the greatest obstacle to good living. So maybe that's what I've been after. I don't ever want to be so attached to something that I can't turn it loose.

"Silver is produced from lighter elements in the Universe through the r-process, a form of nuclear fusion believed to take place during certain types of supernova explosions. This produces many elements heavier than iron, of which silver is one." (Hansen, C. J.; Primas, F. (2010). "Silver Stars". Proceedings of the International Astronomical Union 5: 67.)

The silver rush in the 1800's was responsible for an increase in westward movement in the USA. The first big find was the Comstock Lode in Nevada, which led to lots of crazy people rushing to get to the location in hopes of striking it rich. And some did. Comstock was just lucky to be there at all. He was actually left there to be caretaker of the cabin belonging to the Grosh brothers, who had earlier found both silver and gold at the site. But this was just a decade after the gold rush in California and they were intent on getting there, so they left Comstock at their cabin and headed west. They both died, so Comstock claimed the cabin and the land around it. But the Grosh brothers didn't get credit for the find. Neither did Comstock. Such were the vagaries of the day. None of the original miners really made any money. No, the real money was made by the money handlers in San Francisco, who manipulated the value of silver in order to amass huge fortunes. Some things never change.

Genius without education is like silver in the mine." (Benjamin Franklin)

My father's maternal grandparents were quite wealthy. My grandmother, the eldest of six children, was encouraged to get all the education she could. She was born in 1891, so going to college was rare for women of her generation. Only a few women's colleges existed and she went to three of them. Papa Joe (my great-grandfather) enrolled her at Winthrop College (of which he was one of the founders) and Converse College, both in South Carolina where the family lived. But after that he sent her to Smith College, because he also wanted her to have an education at a northern school. So she ended up with two bachelor degrees, one from Converse and one from Smith. Grandmother was a smart woman with knowledge about many things. She and Granddaddy then went on to send all five of their children to college. By the time we came along, it was just expected that we would all attend college. In my family, education is critical. Learning and a thirst for information is one of the main gifts we have as human beings. To deny it is to wither on the vine.

"For all the gold and silver stolen and shipped to Spain did not make the Spanish people richer. It gave their kings an edge in the balance of power for a time, a chance to hire more mercenary soldiers for their wars. They ended up losing those wars anyway, and all that was left was a deadly inflation, a starving population, the rich richer, the poor poorer, and a ruined peasant class." (Hans Konig)

Wow. That sounds familiar. Today we have the wealthiest of Americans getting richer, the poorest Americans getting poorer and a disappearing middle class. What's different about us is that the richest are using a new strategy of convincing the people with not much that the poor are trying to steal it from them. While the people with not much are focusing their angry eyes on the poor, the rich steal them blind. It's amazing that it works.

I dreamed last night of a giant escalator to heaven. The sides shone silver in the light of the sun. It had multiple stages where people would get off for examination. The one I noticed was for evangelicals. I got the sense that since they claimed to know God better than anyone, that their examination would be specifically detailed. But it seemed that it wasn't going well what with all that judging and excluding that goes on in those circles. Their faces looked shocked. Further up the escalator were some children. They were playing on the moving stairs. I wanted to tell them to stop because their feet might get caught. I even wondered if there was an emergency stop button at the bottom and the top, just in case.

That escalator looked almost inviting. But I'm not ready to get on just yet.

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