Billie Silvey
November 2006
--“The world is so full of a number of things, I’m sure
we should all be as happy as kings.�--
Robert Louis

I am currently reading a series of detective novels by
Alexander McCall Smith.  His detective, Precious Ramotswe,
founder of
The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency, was
called “The Miss Marple of Botswana� in the
New York
Times Review of Books
Though set in Africa at the edge of the vast Kalahari Desert,
small details keep reminding me of my childhood home in the
Texas Panhandle in contrast with life today.  It was best
expressed by Mma Ramotswe’s American client in
of the Giraffe
when she said,

“We had found a country where the people treated one
another well, with respect, and where there were values other
than the grab, grab which prevails back home. . . .  Everything
about my own country seemed so shoddy and superficial when
held up against what I saw in Africa.  People suffered there,
and many of them had very little, but they had this wonderful
feeling for others.�

What is it about our Los Angeles culture that makes it
impossible for people to feel satisfied?  Is it that the very air is
saturated with advertising?  We drive to work in the morning,
surrounded by signs and billboards trying to get us to want
something we don’t have.  We turn on the radio or TV
and are met by a barrage of words telling us that we need this
or that to be happy or healthy or wealthy.  We flip through a
magazine and there it is again.

Or is it something inside us, some competitive spirit that
prompts us to look around at others, meanly comparing what
we have with what they do?  Of course, there always will be
someone with more, so we can never rest content.

In the richest country in the world, at a time when all of us see
ourselves as middle class, we are encouraged to feel like the
orphaned Oliver Twist, holding up our empty porridge bowls
and saying, “Please, sir, I want some more.�

Enough, Already
The Bible, on the other hand, urges us to be content.  In fact, it
commands it.  How many people, asked to name a command
of God, would come up with that one?  But when the soldiers
asked John the Baptist what they should do, he said, “Donâ
€™t extort money and don’t accuse people falsely--be
content with your pay� (Luke 3:14).

Paul used himself as an example:  â€œI have learned to be
content whatever the circumstancesâ€� (Philippians 4:11).  He
told Timothy, “Godliness with contentment is great gain.  
For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take
nothing out of it.  But if we have food and clothing, we will be
content with that� (1 Timothy 6:6-7).

And the writer to the Hebrews says, “Keep your lives free
from the love of money, and be content with what you have,
because God has said, ‘Never will I leave you; never will I
forsake you.’�

Only when we realize that we don’t need more, that we
have enough, can we truly be grateful.
Willa Myers