Friday, June 19, 2009

Rich Man Poor Man

Many years ago I met an Australian nurse living in a remote village in Bali, Indonesia. Her focus was giving medical attention to the local community. The village is among the poorest in Bali. She used her own money to buy supplies but, as time passed, she ran low on funds. She decided to do a fund raiser in hopes of receiving the money needed to carry on her work.

I heard about the fund raiser and decided to donate some pieces of jewelry I had made. I knew she needed as much help as she could get so I thought about other people who might be willing to give something for the auction.

Over a period of years I had bought thousands of dollars worth of sterling silver beads and pendants from a Balinese man in the village of Celuk. I decided to call on him and ask for a small donation for the auction. Whew, things did not go as I thought they would. When I approached him he gave me a one word answer…NO. I was stunned. This man had a lovely home and drove a new car. He is wealthy and had a thriving business. I just couldn’t believe he was so cold and uncaring. Needless to say I never bought from him again.

When I told my friend, who always helped me with my business when I was in Bali, what had happened he was sad to hear the news. He told me he would donate two bamboo bracelets inlaid with ebony and a bamboo dragonfly pendant also inlaid with ebony that he had strung on black cord.

In thinking about this situation it occurred to me that the so called rich man was actually poor. He had no compassion for his fellow man. He had many material trappings but his heart was closed and uncaring. If some natural disaster occurred and he lost his worldly goods he would be left an empty shell of a man.

My friend, on the other hand, has very little in the way of worldly goods. He and his family have food and shelter and an old motor bike. They sleep on mattresses laid on the floor. He earns money by doing wood carving and painting. Is he poor? No. He has natural God given gifts that allow him to earn a living, but more then that he has a warm heart. He is always willing to help others in whatever ways he can. He has a strong understanding of giving and receiving. He has great faith in the Hindu God’s he believes in. He is the most spiritual person I have ever met.

I learned many lessons during what I think of as the Bali years. This one is one of the most important. I learned what it really means to be rich and it has nothing to do with money!

Oh, the Australian woman is still in the mountains doing her work with the poor. What a special woman she is.

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