9.20.2012

Monetary Policy

http://isyscanada.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/5.jpgFor those of us in the upper middle class, it sometimes takes into your late teens to realize just how rich you are.  Your schools and neighborhoods are fairly economically homogenous, so your wealth is not that conspicuously different from that of the people you interact with, so you start to think everyone's like this.  Then you volunteer in a soup kitchen or do a service mission overseas, and are overcome with the starkness of crushing poverty.  This is a not unfamiliar arc for many in the upper middle class, including me.

One of the benefits of living in a big city is exposing your kids to a wide range of walks of life.  My kids, though only 5 and 7, already realize how fabulously well off we are in the grand scheme of things, and I think that is a good thing, and I am happy about that.

Look, we're not filthy rich nor do we act like it: we own one car and one computer, we bought our house for less than $100,000, and we don't splurge for fancy things ever.  But nor are we slumming: Amy and I have well-paying jobs, we have retirement and college savings, and by dint of not having school loans or credit card debt are in the black when it comes to net worth.  I am aware of our material abundance, especially in a city, country, and world in which there are so many who have so little.

And, by living in a big city, my children are aware of this as well.  Where Aaron goes to school, 91 percent of students are considered economically disadvantaged.  Both kids have done day care at places that have had more subsidized families than families paying full freight.  They regularly walk down blocks where the houses are more run-down and the sidewalks more cracked than ours.  They know we are fortunate and they will tell you if asked.

But that's only half of the lesson.  It's good to know you have it good, but it's better to know the importance of being generous with that abundance.  This lesson, I think, will take more time.  Kids are inherently self-centered, and while I'm glad to see signs of gratitude in their hearts, a mindset of sharing and not hoarding and of sacrifice and not comfort will take some instruction on their parents' part and some refining on their God's part. 

This is the harder but more important lesson.  So it's good they got the first lesson, but I'm still working with them on the second.




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