The Temptation to Hoard
As fearful people we are inclined to develop a mind-set that makes us say: “There’s not enough food for everyone, so I better be sure I save enough for myself in case of emergency,” or “There’s not enough knowledge for everyone to enjoy; so I’d better keep my knowledge to myself, so no one else will use it” or “There’s not enough love to give to everybody, so I’d better keep my friends for myself to prevent others from taking them away from me.”
This is a scarcity mentality. It involves hoarding whatever we have, fearful that we won’t have enough to survive. The tragedy, however, is that what you cling to ends up rotting in your hands.
The above quote of Henri Nouwen’s helps us to see that there is a fine line between having enough food etc to see us through a couple of weeks without any money, and having a ‘hoarding mentality’ which can be detrimental to ourselves and to others.
Of course, i would argue that in some situations, where money is scarce, it is sensible to buy what you can when you can afford to do so, especially when there are children to consider.
It is explained best by Henri Nouwen himself when he writes…
Seeing the Miracle of Multiplication
The opposite of a scarcity mentality is an abundancy mentality. With an abundancy mentality we say: “There is enough for everyone, more than enough: food, knowledge, love … everything.” With this mind-set we give away whatever we have, to whomever we meet. When we see hungry people we give them food. When we meet ignorant people we share our knowledge; when we encounter people in need of love, we offer them friendship and affection and hospitality and introduce them to our family and friends.
When we live with this mind-set, we will see the miracle that what we give away multiplies: food, knowledge, love … everything. There will even be many leftovers.