Monday, November 14, 2011

The Two Princes

The Two Princes
Once upon a time, in a land far away, lived a rich prince.  The prince was a nice man, and to be honest did not even realize that he was that rich.  You see, he had grown up in a rich family, living in a rich part of the land, and enjoying all the benefits of wealth and success.  He lived in the Land Of Opportunity.  Instead of seeing his wealth, many times he found himself looking at the kingdoms around who seemed to be wealthier and feeling somewhat cheated by life.

This prince lived in the Land of Opportunity, doing what he needed to be done and helping out his fellow rich countrymen as he could.  He knew that there were other countries besides his, and he had heard that some of them were even poorer than he felt, but his life was busy and other than hearing an occasional tale from a traveling peddler he had no time to wonder or wander.

Then, one day, he decided to make it happen in spite of his busy schedule.  He prioritized a trip and arranged for someone to cover his responsibilities during his absence.  He left his home and traveled past the other rich kingdoms into the land of the normal person.  This was strange to him, because he defined normal based upon what he knew as normal, rather than what truly was normal for the world.
The first thing that he noticed in Normal Land was that the people were hurting.  They lacked the most basic necessities.  As a matter of fact, many of the things that he had always thought of as a necessity were either unheard of or viewed as luxuries by the people in Normal Land.  He had thought that his life was harsh because he went two years without a new carriage.  These people had never seen a carriage.  He considered himself poor because his home was smaller than some of his neighbors.  These people wanted a roof.  In his country, eating was a social event, and food was tailored to specific tastes and occasions.  To his shame, he realized that his dog ate better than most families in Normal Land, and he was in shock to see naked people starving to death.

Over and over he saw that people in Normal Land needed food, clothing, education, shelter, water, and basic sanitation.  One night he took a piece of paper and figured out that the money he spent on entertainment in a year could save the lives of over a thousand dying people in Normal Land. More than that, most of the people in Normal Land had never even heard of the King of Kings and had no hope of entering the Eternal Kingdom.  The prince thought everyone knew of Him.  This seemed doubly sad because the Eternal Kingdom was such a wonderful hope for people living in such desperation.  If only they knew that this world was not the end, but that their pain one day could end.  

He returned to his palace (funny, he had always thought of it as a house until his journey).  As he looked around at the luxury, the excess, the comfort and the ease of life in his country, he vowed to always be grateful. His heart hurt with sympathy for those that he had seen.  He tried, and to some degree succeeded in being empathetic with them in their struggles, even though he truly could not comprehend what it meant to be hungry and cold.

From this moment on, he would not compare himself to those better than himself.  He would remember the suffering and the struggling of the majority of the world that lived in Normal Land.  He would no longer complain when a luxury was denied.  He would be happy with his wealth.  He would be glad that he did not live in Normal Land. 

So he did.  He was a happy, grateful prince living in luxury.  He remembered those poor folk in Normal Land, and thanked God that he wasn’t like that.

Meanwhile, as he was grateful for his luxury, appreciative of his wealth, and thankful for his blessings…millions of people were dying in Normal Land.  Normal People that could have lived off what he threw away every day.  Normal People that the King of King loved who were living in abstract poverty while he was grateful to have the money for his entertainment budget.

He was grateful. They were dead.

Gratitude is not enough. 

Empathy is not enough. 

Sympathy is not enough. 

They are all passive killers.

      Nearby, there was another prince that took a similar journey through Normal Land.  He returned home and vowed to be changed as well.  He was empathetic.  He was sympathetic.  He was grateful.  However he took things one step farther.  He began to GIVE out of his wealth.  He decided that he did not need a new carriage this year, or the next, or the next.  He gave the money he was going to spend on a new carriage to drill a well and provide clean water for an entire village.  He quit spending such vast amounts on entertainment and started construction on a church that would teach others about the King of Kings for generations.  He took a trip to Normal Land every year in order to encourage fellow human beings in their plight, to give generous gifts to ease the harshness of life, and to constantly renew his vision for the world.
      One prince was grateful.  The other was good.
      Which do you identify with?
      This is Thanksgiving.  How about we change the name to this:  


      Don’t just give thanks, out of your thanks, give.


The Holmans In Bolivia said...

Oh great....take my idea and make it way better. You stinker. It's a good thing you are handsome and I love you so much. No, seriously it's a great article. I'm glad you wrote it. Thank you. I think it needs to become a bedtime story that we tell our kids.act