Do you, my reader, ever feel any degree of guilt for living a comfortable lifestyle? Anyone that knows anything about me knows that I am a video game collector--especially steelbooks. I spend quite a fair bit of money on maintaining my large collection. There are, after all, an almost alarmingly huge amount of steelbooks being released for many games these days. It's nothing for me to drop at least $30 per steelbook; that's not even including the cost of the game, and heaven forbid if there is a collector's edition, as well. This spending clearly goes well above and beyond a need for entertainment. I find myself quite preoccupied with, but also quite pleased with the collection I have managed to amass. This is all well and good, but it also brings me to the point of this entry: guilt.
I was driving to school a couple of days ago, and it was really quite rainy outside. There are four or five different homeless people that I pass nearly every day on the way to school. They stand at the exits from the freeway, and they hope for pity from the morning commuters stuck waiting at red lights--who are probably too busy wallowing in pity for themselves to spare any for the vagabonds. I frequently talk to a couple of them; they're actually quite nice, just messed up. I saw them differently this day, though, then I had previously. I was sitting in my nice, warm car. I had my heated seats on, my music was going, I was all bundled up in my warm cloths, and they were standing out there in the rain, begging for money to eat. This is, of course, the standard situation when comparing homeless people to the drivers around them, but I really looked at it differently that morning.
I had spent a good portion of the drive bidding on some ebay items. I was extremely pleased to add them to my collection, but they served absolutely no functional purpose at all. I was spending money simply so I could have something else on my shelf and another line in my spreadsheets--yes, I'm one of those people. Meanwhile, in the world right outside my car window, there was this poor old woman standing there in the rain. She smiles and waves to everyone that goes by, and she hopes she'll get enough money to properly eat and warm up at some point that day. I couldn't help but feel bad once I lined this comparison up.
I am not a bleeding heart, so do not take me for one. She is not entitled to my money, and there is nothing wrong with hard work and success. This realization did not make me want to go sell my collection and sponsor a homeless person. The situation really just made me feel embarrassed at my obsession with material things. I could be in her shoes, after all. I was sitting there, in my warm car, that morning pleased with all the money I had just wasted on 'cool things'. She was standing outside, freezing her old bones off, hoping to eat and warm up. It just made me think.
I have worked with numerous charities over the years, and I have even coached Special Olympics twice; I would say I am a fairly charitable person. I don't think this was a wakeup call to my more charitable side; it's already awake and doing just fine, thank you. It was merely eye opening. In fact, I don't even have a point in mind with this. With my previous blogs, I have set out to illustrate a point. This one is more just contained rambling, however.
Do any of you ever feel any degree of guilt for you comfortable lifestyle? If so, what did you with it?