What would you do if you made 100 times more money than everyone around you?
Would you get new friends? Upgrade them, so to say? Continue on as business as usual - act like there's no difference and blithely ignore your friend's neccessities? Or would you give extravagant gifts, subconciously trying to elevate everyone else?
And how do you think your current social circle would treat you? The same? Or would they feel funny, suddenly uncomfortable with your very prescence - let alone accepting presents or acts of service? Or perhaps the opposite - suddenly mere acquantainces become your best friends, appearing out of the woodwork asking for money "because you can afford it."
This is what I live with every day.
We are a thoroughly middle class American family. But here, we're millionaires.
There is a lady in our ward - we'll call her Maria, because she's Brazilian and they're all called Maria Something. Actually, you've heard of her. So Maria was just recently baptized in October. This past Wednesday night her heavily drugged husband held her and her three children hostage at knife-point. He beat them up, destroyed the house, and tried to rape Maria's fifteen-year-old daughter. He finally fell asleep about 4:30AM and they ran away. He's now on the lam.
And all four are now staying at our house.
I want to give this woman the world. I started small - steak and potatoes last night, plus rice (because you have to feed Brazilians rice at every meal or they'll DIE) and broccoli. They'd never even seen broccoli before and wouldn't touch it. I tried to make up for it by breaking out the ice cream and we rocked out on Guitar Hero as well. We played in the pool. We brought out the train set and chocolate milk for their four-year-old boy and talked soccer with the twelve-year-old boy. We tried to do everything thinkable and unthinkable to make them forget their troubles for a few short hours and feel just a teeny bit at home.
But they were so uncomfortable that it made me uncomfortable.
Maria wouldn't let her children touch anything. Play with anything. Have seconds of anything. All she would talk about is not wanting to be a burden and wanting to leave as soon as possible. She ooooohed and aaaaawed over the monstrosity that is my house (compared to hers anyway - her whole house would fit in my kitchen) and hypothesized about my electricity bill. (She has two lightbulbs in the whole house. When she can afford it.) She made me feel like having money is a sin.
I wanted to ... apologize for the fact that we're wealthy. I feel like I need to prove to everyone, over and over again, that I'm still a normal human being. That just because I know where my next meal is coming from doesn't mean I don't have problems. Or feelings. Or that I'm any different than the next Jane. (Or Maria.) But truth is, people look at me and think I am female dog. (Ahem.)
The truth is, I know I'm not better than she is in any way. We're sisters, of absolutely equal value in the eyes of the Lord. And there's no way I'm letting any sister of mine get killed in the middle of the night - or starve. I want to strip my house and give it to her in a pretty box. And not think anything of it. Because that's what being a fellow human being is all about.
But she doesn't think of me as a human being.