This weekend I splurged and spent a chunk of change at a spa.
And not any old spa. The Spa Utopia. Pan Pacific location. Yes, it’s every bit as wonderful as it sounds.
It raised the questions it usually does: I walked by beggars, including women who sleep on stairs and cardboard, enroute to the spa. How can I justify this splurge in face of the people whose primary needs are not being met?
Like many of you, I have grappled frequently with this question. Here are a few thoughts I have, and I hope to god I’m not defending the indefensible.
- No one is served by everyone being destitute. Rather, we need to find ways where we all enjoy a reasonable standard of living. The fact that I have a reasonable standard of living is a good thing.
- Spa experiences are a good thing. A gorgeous luxury. When it is within my means, and when I go to a spa, the appropriate response is not guilt, but rather ensuring I celebrate and enjoy the experience fully.
- Notwithstanding, I remain accountable (to whom? For me, the creator of all people. But also, to my society. And also, to the marginalized themselves. Food for thought: a priest in an inner city church in the states made the comment: No one gets to heaven without letters of recommendation from the poor) — I remain accountable for the people I encounter locally, and the people across the globe, who are going to bed hungry, and outside.
- I cannot solve the planet’s poverty with my salary. But I can give with increasing generosity. My rule of thumb is that I both give monthly to a charity and also, for every splurge, I give an equal amount to the charity, in addition to the regular amount.
- I can request political change and policies that do more than I can do singlehandedly to eradicate poverty locally and globally.
Readers: how do you balance luxury spending in the midst of a planet of hungry people?