Father Eugene Hemrick

Father Eugene Hemrick

Immediately after the tragic Amtrak derailment in Philadelphia in May, a legal firm advertised on television that those injured should contact the firm to receive just compensation. There was no mention of sympathy or of prayers. The focus was money.

Injuries from such incidents can last a lifetime, requiring enormous medical and other expenses. Those responsible for injuries often try to shortchange those they hurt, so in one way the offer of legal assistance to seek compensation is justifiable.

But in another way it is a reflection of the constant preoccupation with increasing wealth. Prime examples are the stock market’s minute-by-minute reports of gains and losses or the exorbitant salaries paid to athletes and CEOs.

Money is the root of all evil when it takes possession of us, affects our generosity and leads to greed and hoarding. Our obsession with increasing wealth keeps increasing so we need to look for wisdom to counter its ill effects. How do we do this?

We can go along with the mentality that making as much money as possible is a part of life or we can question how such a mentality can affect whether we or others have a good life.

We can educate our children, who are the next generation, to deal with this, to respect the true purpose of money. Money is necessary; but is it always needed solely for selfish uses? To buy fancy cars and clothes and other objects? Can it be used to lift up the life and environment of another person?

Having a good life means appreciating what we have and recognizing that others don’t have it as good. It is looking in our wallet, being thankful for its contents and resolving to share them with those who are less fortunate.

The good life is driven by gratitude. It is inspired by a sense of sacrifice — going without, at times, as a reminder of our solidarity with the poor and destitute.

The good life, in this regard, is having wisdom. It is staying away from the lure of materialism and its false promises of happiness and asking the question, When my life is ended, what do I want to end up with ultimately?

All parents want the best for their children. Unfortunately, teaching them that amassing wealth is the goal in life will influence how they think and act unless they have the wisdom needed to keep money in its rightful place.