Who is Rich?

I have chosen not to live in the country of my birth, which is one of the most highly developed “rich” nations on the face of the earth, and at least on the surface, seems to have everything that most people in poorer countries can only dream of. In contrast, the so-called “underprivileged” people in the countries where I have chosen to live don’t have many of the things that most people in wealthier countries consider essentials, but these poor people seem to know how to enjoy and get the most from life. They are sociable, outgoing, smart, lovers of music and culture, and always ready to engage in a meaningful discussion. The countryside is beautiful and the food is delicious and nutritious. Much more nutritious, in fact, than the stuff that is called “food” that most of their counterparts in wealthier countries eat, because food here is grown the way God intended from the beginning, without chemical fertilizers and toxic pesticides, hormone additives, or genetic modifications.

Yet, one of the first questions that invariably comes up when I meet new people is, “Why did you leave your home country? Everybody here wants to go to the rich West.” I then use that as an opportunity to witness to them while explaining what I believe are the real values of life. What are most people in the so-called “rich” world running after — true happiness and contentment? Or just more money and material things like a nicer house, a fancier car, a bigger TV, the latest phone, game, or gadget?

In the “developing” countries where we have lived, we hardly ever saw a homeless person or a beggar. You do not see bums and winos stumbling down the street. What you do see are people with tight-knit families and culture, who may not have a lot materially, but who share what they have. Another thing you do not see are large beautifully landscaped lawns. What you do see though are immaculately kept vegetable gardens in both the front yard and the back, along with the occasional goat and a scattering of chickens keeping the insect population down as they peck their way to producing tomorrow morning’s eggs .

In the country where I was born, the suicide rate is one of the highest in the world. So is the level of stress through worry, job insecurity, alcoholism, divorce, loneliness, and other personal and social ills. It also has the highest death rate from cancer and heart attack, which experts say can be linked to the national diet of mostly highly processed “foods”. So many are also depending on social services, and so do not take much inititative to take care of themselves, and therefore do not muster the courage to face life’s challenges.

Who is spreading this terrible propaganda that the only way people will ever be happy is by taking the road toward money and materialism? Why is it that the youth of these nations are looking so much to the riches of the west, thinking if they can just go to some rich, developed country, then they will be happy? Who is turning their eyes away from the real values and the path that leads to true success and fulfillment in life? What was it that the devil said to Jesus in Matthew chapter 4? “All these things I will give You if You will fall down and worship me.” Pretty costly, especially when you consider that God has already given us all the best things in life for free!