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Flood watch issued December 20, 2014

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Letter to the Editor: What profits man?

— What profits man?

To the editor:

(Edited for length.)

The dumbest thing I ever read was a bumper sticker that said: “The person who dies with the most toys wins.” And here is the smartest thing: “Wouldn’t it be wonderful if each of us could have everything we could possibly want. Why? Because then we could discover that owning everything isn’t nearly enough to truly satisfy us for long and we are left still wanting!” Why?

Because human desires cannot be completely satisfied with material things. Because we were designed with a free will, an immortal soul and an inborn instinct for eternal values and destination. St. Augustine briefly explains this: “My soul is restless until it comes to rest in God.”

The lesson here is that our free will drives us to make choices. My choices will be constructive or destructive, and my choices directly affect the lives of my family and my friends for better or for worse. My understanding and commitment to eternal values can direct me to make better choices, or not.

Eternal values are things learned from thousands of centuries of human experience. Both testaments of the Bible teach that stable societies don’t just happen. They are built upon individual and collective standards calling for individual and collective self-control and generally accepted behavioral limits.

The Seven Deadly or Cardinal Sins are pride, sloth, wrath, avarice, lust, envy, gluttony. Each is destructive behavior.

Two of the oldest eternal values are: “To love God with all your heart and mind and soul.” And: “All the law is fulfilled in one word: Love your neighbor as yourself,” Galatians 5:14.

The Divine Virtues are faith, hope, love, gratitude, forgiveness, compassion, mercy and patience directly oppose the Cardinal Sins. These Virtues are eternal because they are proven effective over millennia of human experience. When I use a virtue in a relationship, it doesn’t end there. We humans learn best from each other’s example. This learning by example is especially true of children and young adults.

So what accounts for the wars and brutality, cultural degradation, economic crises and other calamities happening today? The answer is complex, but God is certainly not to blame for our out-of-control behaviors nor for the mess we are making of Earth.

Now is the time to ask ourselves the question: “What is the profit for one to gain the whole work, if it causes the loss of his eternal soul,” Mark 8:36.

Tom Lexow

The Dalles

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