Living like a king (or queen)

You don't need to go out and buy an expensive stone castle. In fact, you probably don't need to do anything, you're already living like a king or queen, or even better than one! In almost every area of life, pretty much all of us (in the first world) can enjoy things that for most of human history, were the privilege of kings, queens, and wealthy businessman, or were merely the stuff of dreams. A few examples from the top of my head:

A car: whether you own one (or two, or three), or can rent one a few days a year to travel on vacation, with a car we can travel faster than was possible till the 19th century even for for the wealthiest who owned many horses, and easily remain comfortable and dry while travelling in rain and ice; many cars also have the luxury of air-conditioning.

Spacious houses with central heating: the majority of us in the west can heat our houses or apartments to a level of comfort that in prior centuries only the wealthy could afford (in those regions where central heating was a thing at all — elsewhere you would usually have either a small living space or a drafty and cold one.)

Phones, cell phones, computer, internet: we can deliver messages across the world orders of magnitudes faster than was possible through most of human history, and that cheaply (even in the USA, where telecommunications is more expensive than in many third world countries (!!), it is far cheaper than employing high-speed dedicated couriers or special manned messaging systems, as in the past was necessary for long-distance quick communication). With little effort, we can pick up this little thing in our pocket, and immediately see and talk to family, friends, or colleagues 5,000 miles away, the stuff of dreams, fantasy, or science fiction!

Freezer, refrigerator, ice cream, etc.: formerly available in the summer only to those wealthy enough to cart in ice from the mountains, or to own a dedicated ice storage house/room to store large quantities of ice through the entire summer, we can enjoy cold drinks, ice cream, and preserve food by freezing with hardly a second thought.

Electric light: for a few cents per day, we can light a room brighter than was possible by any number of candles or oil lamps, without their smell and flickering.

Medicine and medical treatment: The price or availability of health insurance, the cost of treatment (not covered by insurance) can cause a certain amount of anxiety. But in the larger perspective, most of the treatments or medicines we have access to were formerly not available at any price, even to royalty.

No worries about daily needs from year to year: as a result of stronger nations and of globalization, we don't need to worry about starving as a result of a year or two of poor harvests. In fact, pretty much the only likely situation that could arise where there would be a risk of starving to death would be in the event of a civil or world war.

A high degree of security: Unlike kings, or queens, who had a quite significant risk of being murdered, we enjoy a high degree of safety, in no small measure due to the greater overall wealth; when everyone enjoys the kind of relative wealth that you do, you'll less likely to be murdered for your money; and here violent criminals have proportionally more to lose, less than gain, than in poorer centuries or parts of the world.

All of us are incredibly rich, even when it comes to material good. So don't waste time thinking about the things your neighbors, coworkers, famous actors, or others have that you don't. Enjoy your royal, luxurious life! Or rather, and a much better thing to do, count your blessings and thank God!

Indeed, there are two even greater levels of blessings we've received. For of much greater value than this wealth of material things with which we've been blessed, are family and friends. And still more, the gift we've received of God's love. He loved us so much that he brought us into being out love, sent his own Son for love of us, to redeem us and to lead us to the fullness of life.

Beyond all material blessings, we want to thank God for this love, and in this thankfulness, to be good stewards of what we've received, and ready to share this bounty with those in need.

(This post is somewhat freely adapted from thoughts expressed in a homily last Sunday, September 10, 2017, for a Mass in thanksgiving for the harvest.)

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