108 – April 18
“When I was born, I owed twelve dollars.”—George S. Kaufman
“Introductory offer—3.9 percent interest rate!” screams the envelope. It’s another credit card solicitation. I add it to the pile I’ve been collecting, muffling the yell of the last offer of 5.9 percent. I must have forty of them now.
It’s always interesting in my class when we start talking about credit card interest rates. People clamor to find out which credit card has the best terms. Should they switch their balances to a new card every time they get a new, lower offer? How can they make sure they notice when the interest rate balloons after the introductory period? Can they call their current card and get them to lower their interest rate?
I chuckle. All of this energy and attention is misplaced. They are treating the symptom and not the disease. The truth is if they pay off their balance every month, it won’t matter what the interest rate is on the card. As long as it is a card that has a grace period and not one that charges interest from the date of your purchase, if you pay the bill in full when you get it, you won’t owe one dime in interest.
Instead of “buy now, pay later,” why not “save now, buy later”? If there is something you want, start saving for it. Then you earn the interest instead of paying the interest. What a concept! This is how they used to do it before the proliferation of credit cards and credit card debt enabled us to gorge ourselves on immediate gratification. Instead of worrying about which credit card has the best terms, spend your time and energy on how to get a job, get a raise, open a business, expand your business, and go for your goal. Watch your money making money in your bank account, your mutual fund or investment portfolio. You may just decide that’s more fun than buying that new whatsit.
3.9 percent of zero is zero. 23.9 percent of zero is zero.
Leave home without it.
“I love what a smart money manager I am!”
For many years, my roommate Shelley prepared Passover supper for her family and my family gathered at one of my sister’s for Easter. I’ve always felt strong kindred for the Jewish people and traditions. It probably started in childhood when I fell in love with Charlton Heston in “The Ten Commandments”, although there’s a whisper of a family rumor that my grandmother was Jewish.
When my Sunday school at church had a Passover Seder at Easter, it sank in that Jesus was Jewish, all the disciples were Jewish, the Virgin Mary was Jewish, etc. I mean, I knew that, but I didn’t really know it, you know? After that I just couldn’t understand what anti-Semitism was all about. Like, what do you think Jesus would say about that?
I guess you just have to file it under “People are crazy”.
I have found beauty in all religious traditions. I gained insight from Sufi stories, I learned compassion and love from Jesus; I learned the Ten Commandments from the Torah. Catholics have beautiful cathedrals, a wonderful liturgy, Gregorian Chants, and the Sistine Chapel. The Mormons I have met have been some of the nicest people I’ve ever encountered. Muslims pray five times a day, and the muezzin’s song calling the faithful to worship is profoundly beautiful. I found Tao in the night-blooming jasmine outside my door, and purring of the cat in my arms.
I embraced reincarnation after reading about Edgar Cayce’s work in “There is a River” by Thomas Sugrue, because it rang an internal bell for me. Many lives, many chances to discover and learn the truth—I like that idea. It’s fair. I listen to everyone and do the best I can to make my own decisions, to take the wheat and leave the chaff behind. Someone huffed at me that I couldn’t just believe the parts of religions I liked and disregard the rest. Sure I can. Just watch me keep the baby Dolphin and throw the sharky bits in the bathwater out.
My friend, Adipen Bose, said to me, “People say that in India we have 8 million gods. That’s not it—we have 8 million aspects of God.” That sounds right to me. If there is a God, Creative Consciousness, Higher Power, Holy Spirit, Divine Designer of what we know in the Universe—call it “The Force” as in Star Wars—when we small humans touch upon such magnificence, can we be entrusted to see all of the mighty power contained therein? Most likely not. So what we do is choose aspects of God to worship, pray to, or be mindful of, and we choose groups called religions in order to bond with others and touch the Divine: Jewish, Hindu, Catholic, Protestant, Mormon, Muslim, Church of Religious Science, Ba H’ai, et al.
There was a survey in England in which 390,000 people listed their religious affiliation as “Jedi”. The aspect of God I believe in would be laughing heartily with me about that!
Can I make a request? Can women get some face time in religions now, too? Women have been second-class citizens for eons, but you can’t keep us down in the convent now that we’ve seen the Internet. I was brought up with the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, but wouldn’t it be nice to include the Mother, the Daughter, and Women’s Intuition? The female principle needs a little more good press. We’re tired of being the villain of the Garden of Eden story. At least we were brave enough to make up our own minds and take a risk. Adam just whined, “The woman made me do it.” Sheesh, Adam, you’re such a Tuna.
Some wit said that the Eleventh Commandment was “Thou shalt lighten up!” Let’s forget the details, look for the Universal Good in all religions and love each other. Show me by loving example that your way is the way of a Dolphin.
For more in this vein, see the last chapter in my book “Zero to Zillionaire”.