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Ronnie McBrayer: Price of material wealth may be a life of misery

April 2, 2011

I’ve got bad news and good news. The bad news is you probably won’t win the lottery. The good news is you may be better off if you don’t. Lottery winners, according to some studies, are no happier than when they were broke. Some, in fact, are worse off in the end than in the beginning.

Consider the story of Lakeland, Fla., resident Abraham Shakespeare. When Shakespeare was 13, he was arrested for robbing a convenience store. For the next 30 years he was in and out of trouble, in and out of jail, job-to-job, and living hand-to-mouth.

Poverty, assault charges, drug abuse, restraining orders, back child support. Fresh out of jail in November 2006, he was lucky to have an $8-an-hour job unloading boxes from a tractor-trailer. With two of the last five bucks in his wallet, he bought two Quick Pick lottery tickets. Three days later, he was a millionaire 30 times over.

Three years later, with most of his money already gone — spent frivolously and on all the some old habits as before — his body was found buried in a concrete slab, the alleged victim of an apparent con artist.

You would think that even for the most troubled soul, winning $30 million would set things right. We often think that getting what we want will solve all our problems, but not so. Sometimes what we want only increases our troubles. No, this isn’t true in every case, but it is true enough times to give us pause.


So when is enough, enough? Where is that line that marks simple contentment from complex materialism? I don’t know. There is no formula for such a calculation. We must listen to our lives and become aware that all we can acquire and all we can earn may be appreciated blessings, or these things may rob us of the contentment of the simple life.


The great G. K. Chesterton said, “There are two ways to get enough. One is to continue to accumulate more and more. The other is to desire less.” Let us be careful, that in the effort to grab more, we do not lose our grip on the simple and contented life we can have now.

From The Detroit News:

2 Comments leave one →
  1. grace permalink
    April 3, 2011 9:37 am

    Where do you see on any legal site that this victim, Abraham Shakespeare, had any drug charge against him ever? There were many other things that he was charged with (especially driving offenses) and a few other things that he was convicted of, but I can find no credible evidence that this man had abused drugs. In fact, his family and friends insisted that he did not and the Court records seem to agree with their assertions. If you want to speak ill of the dead, at least speak truthfully of the dead. It might also be wise to cite your sources so the reader can judge for themselves how correct your story is.

    • catholicwideweb permalink*
      April 3, 2011 12:48 pm

      i site the source of this article and the author, ronnie mcbrayer, please find his comment box on another site to expect an answer to your comment. my purpose in posting was about living a simple life.

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