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The Radical Ethic


Jeannot
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THE RADICAL ETHIC

 

"Do not resist an evildoer. But if anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also. And if anyone wants to sue you and take your coat, give him your cloak as well. And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go also the second mile.

 

"Give to everyone who begs from you, and do not refuse anyone who wants to borrow from you.... Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven.... For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the collaborators do the same?" (Matt 5:39-46)

 

As someone said, nobody can say that Christianity has failed. It's just that it's never been tried.

 

"Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.

 

Blessed are you who hunger, for you will be filled.

 

Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh....

 

But woe woe to you rich! You have received your consolation.

 

Woe to you are full now, for you will be hungry.

 

Woe to you who are laughing now, for you will weep." (Luke 20-25)

 

Who would preach such a radical ethic? He tells us who he is, and that his mission is that of Isaiah and the Suffering Servant:

 

"The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives, and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free." (Luke 4:18)

 

As the Jesus Seminar says, for Jesus, God's kingdom "offers little by way of earthly reward; its demands are staggering. Jesus apparently did not want it confused with mundane hopes."

 

We don't need God to tell us to love our families and friends. Even sinners and pagans do that. (And even if we don't, we know we should.) God might demand something more.

 

If you are struck, you strike back (if the striker is not too big, that is). If you are brutalized, you brutalize. "Those to whom evil is done, do evil in return." (WH Auden) But human nature is such that if you are struck or brutalized, you may seek satisfaction from anyone. It doesn't have to be the one who struck or brutalized you.

 

In the Middle East today, and everywhere throughout history, violence begets violence. No one wants to be the first to back down, to give in. We must save face (ego). So how can the never-ending cycle be stopped? This is a problem that bothered people at least as far back as Aeschylus. It is the problem he deals with in his ORESTEIA.

 

Jesus' solution is that the violence must stop with YOU and ME. The automatic reflex to strike back must be controlled. With this retaliatory ethic, one blow given a million years ago would still be reverberating among us. And a corollary is to fight to overcome feelings of resentment, and the tendency to harbor grudges.

 

It's a question of freedom. To strike back is not an act of freedom, but is automatic. It is acting in the predictable way. To resist, when one has the ability to strike back, is to break into freedom. At once, the world is better. The chain of retaliation has to be broken somewhere. Why not with you?

 

PROBLEM: If you act this way, people will walk all over you.

 

TENTATIVE ANSWER: There is a way to avoid this. It has been demonstrated by Gandhi and by Martin Luther King. It is a way of resistance to violence, but it is not really passive. It is, in fact, much more active that merely striking back. It is not cowardly, but, in the name of justice, seeks confrontation with the enemy. The enemy is then given pause, and may take time to reflect on his actions. He will at least know that you are not afraid of him.

 

The radical ethic of Jesus may be the only practical one, since it seems to offer the best, and maybe the only, way of ending violence.

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AMEN!!!

 

Jesus' teaching, as recorded in the Bible, spans a wide and radical range. We tend to gravitate toward the easier parts: judgement, miracles, charity, conditional salvation (including heaven). These are very attractive aspects of the Jesus story.

 

Judgement? Oh yeah. We know what to do with that one. If we can't practice it, we at least want the satisfaction that our God will.

 

Miracles? Who doesn't want miracles? Believe in them or not, we want them.

 

Charity? Of course. Requires a bit of generosity and sacrifice (maybe even some hard work), but we don't have to give it all (do we?). And we get something back (don't we?).

 

Salvation with conditions. That's easy. We have everything to gain, and everything to lose. Universal Salvation? Much more difficult to accept. You mean all my charity and my weekly subscription to the Christian Church doesn't buy me anything accept for plain ole happiness and contentment on earth?

 

Now the Radical Ethic that Jeanot spoke of. You can count on a short line for that one. Churches wouldn't make a dime off that stuff. If there's a part of the Gospels that isn't taken literally (even by the literalists) it's that stuff. We have a name for the few that have: Martyr.

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AMEN!!!

 

Jesus' teaching, as recorded in the Bible, spans a wide and radical range.  We tend to gravitate toward the easier parts:  judgement, miracles, charity, conditional salvation (including heaven).  These are very attractive aspects of the Jesus story. 

 

Judgement?  Oh yeah.  We know what to do with that one.  If we can't practice it, we at least want the satisfaction that our God will.

 

Miracles?  Who doesn't want miracles?  Believe in them or not, we want them. 

 

Charity?  Of course.  Requires a bit of generosity and sacrifice (maybe even some hard work), but we don't have to give it all (do we?).  And we get something back (don't we?).

 

Salvation with conditions.  That's easy.  We have everything to gain, and everything to lose.  Universal Salvation?  Much more difficult to accept.  You mean all my charity and my weekly subscription to the Christian Church doesn't buy me anything accept for plain ole happiness and contentment on earth?

 

Now the Radical Ethic that Jeanot spoke of.  You can count on a short line for that one.  Churches wouldn't make a dime off that stuff.  If there's a part of the Gospels that isn't taken literally (even by the literalists) it's that stuff.  We have a name for the few that have:  Martyr.

 

 

I agree, Fatherman. I would add that we meet Jesus everyday. He said "Inasmuch as you have done it to the least of these my brothers, you have done it to me."

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AMEN!!!

 

Jesus' teaching, as recorded in the Bible, spans a wide and radical range.  We tend to gravitate toward the easier parts:  judgement, miracles, charity, conditional salvation (including heaven).  These are very attractive aspects of the Jesus story. 

 

Judgement?  Oh yeah.  We know what to do with that one.  If we can't practice it, we at least want the satisfaction that our God will.

 

Miracles?  Who doesn't want miracles?  Believe in them or not, we want them. 

 

Charity?  Of course.  Requires a bit of generosity and sacrifice (maybe even some hard work), but we don't have to give it all (do we?).  And we get something back (don't we?).

 

Salvation with conditions.  That's easy.  We have everything to gain, and everything to lose.  Universal Salvation?  Much more difficult to accept.  You mean all my charity and my weekly subscription to the Christian Church doesn't buy me anything accept for plain ole happiness and contentment on earth?

 

Now the Radical Ethic that Jeanot spoke of.  You can count on a short line for that one.  Churches wouldn't make a dime off that stuff.  If there's a part of the Gospels that isn't taken literally (even by the literalists) it's that stuff.  We have a name for the few that have:  Martyr.

Right! Not something you'll hear from Joel Osteen or Rick Warren--and sure as hell not from Jerry Falwell or Pat Robertson! The theologies that are popular right now--and have been something the Church has struggled with throughout its history--are the Prosperity Gospel that emphasizes material blessing and wealth as sign of God's favor, and a kick ass Gospel with balls that makes Jesus the ultimate warrior. Jesus as Conan the Barbarian.

 

Where does a Prosperity Gospel come from? Certainly not from the message of Jesus! The Book of Proverbs, maybe. But Jesus always focused on the very ones who had to do without--the 'preferential option for the poor' in the language of liberation theology.

 

As for the macho Jesus model, we have the Book of Revelations (or its premillenialist misinterpretation) and the Hebrew Scripture view of the Messiah as one in the manner of David and establish an earthly kingdom, to thank for the picture of Jesus smiting the ungodly with relish and delight. Contrast that, again, with the Gospels, and we see a Jesus who rejected power and might as options again and again--first, in the Wilderness Temptation, again when Peter calls him the Messiah and Jesus essentially tells him, "Shut up, you don't get it! (I'm not that kind of Messiah)", and again, when he does not resist his captors who lead him away to his torture and death. Passive, non-violent, resistance all the way!

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Right! Not something you'll hear from Joel Osteen or Rick Warren--and sure as hell not from Jerry Falwell or Pat Robertson!  The theologies that are popular right now--and have been something the Church has struggled with throughout its history--are the Prosperity Gospel that emphasizes material blessing and wealth as sign of God's favor, and a kick ass Gospel with balls that makes Jesus the ultimate warrior. Jesus as Conan the Barbarian.

 

Where does a Prosperity Gospel come from? Certainly not from the message of Jesus! The Book of Proverbs, maybe. But Jesus always focused on the very ones who had to do without--the 'preferential option for the poor' in the language of liberation theology.

 

As for the macho Jesus model, we have the Book of Revelations (or its premillenialist misinterpretation) and the Hebrew Scripture view of the Messiah as one in the manner of David and establish an earthly kingdom, to thank for the picture of Jesus smiting the ungodly with relish and delight. Contrast that, again, with the Gospels, and we see a Jesus who rejected power and might as options again and again--first, in the Wilderness Temptation, again when Peter calls him the Messiah and Jesus essentially tells him, "Shut up, you don't get it! (I'm not that kind of Messiah)", and again, when he does not resist his captors who lead him away to his torture and death. Passive, non-violent,  resistance all the way!

 

I would argue that prosperity has it's place. This scripture hints as to where.

 

"But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you."

 

To Jesus, prosperity is not the goal. Godly living is the goal. This is how our needs are met. The blessing of prosperity is a byproduct of Godly or 'in tune' living.

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Right! Not something you'll hear from Joel Osteen or Rick Warren--and sure as hell not from Jerry Falwell or Pat Robertson!  The theologies that are popular right now--and have been something the Church has struggled with throughout its history--are the Prosperity Gospel that emphasizes material blessing and wealth as sign of God's favor, and a kick ass Gospel with balls that makes Jesus the ultimate warrior. Jesus as Conan the Barbarian.

 

Where does a Prosperity Gospel come from? Certainly not from the message of Jesus! The Book of Proverbs, maybe. But Jesus always focused on the very ones who had to do without--the 'preferential option for the poor' in the language of liberation theology.

 

As for the macho Jesus model, we have the Book of Revelations (or its premillenialist misinterpretation) and the Hebrew Scripture view of the Messiah as one in the manner of David and establish an earthly kingdom, to thank for the picture of Jesus smiting the ungodly with relish and delight. Contrast that, again, with the Gospels, and we see a Jesus who rejected power and might as options again and again--first, in the Wilderness Temptation, again when Peter calls him the Messiah and Jesus essentially tells him, "Shut up, you don't get it! (I'm not that kind of Messiah)", and again, when he does not resist his captors who lead him away to his torture and death. Passive, non-violent,  resistance all the way!

 

I would argue that prosperity has it's place. This scripture hints as to where.

 

"But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you."

 

To Jesus, prosperity is not the goal. Godly living is the goal. This is how our needs are met. The blessing of prosperity is a byproduct of Godly or 'in tune' living.

 

 

True, but I think our needs were to be met by sharing. At least that's what the apostles and disciples did in Acts 4:32ff. And Jesus made it clear to those he sent out on missions (first 12, then 70) that they were to take nothing with them, but to rely on the householders they went to.

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True, but I think our needs were to be met by sharing. At least that's what the apostles and disciples did in Acts 4:32ff. And Jesus made it clear to those he sent out on missions (first 12, then 70) that they were to take nothing with them, but to rely on the householders they went to.

 

I guess the central idea here is Trust.

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Right! Not something you'll hear from Joel Osteen or Rick Warren--and sure as hell not from Jerry Falwell or Pat Robertson!  The theologies that are popular right now--and have been something the Church has struggled with throughout its history--are the Prosperity Gospel that emphasizes material blessing and wealth as sign of God's favor, and a kick ass Gospel with balls that makes Jesus the ultimate warrior. Jesus as Conan the Barbarian.

 

Where does a Prosperity Gospel come from? Certainly not from the message of Jesus! The Book of Proverbs, maybe. But Jesus always focused on the very ones who had to do without--the 'preferential option for the poor' in the language of liberation theology.

 

As for the macho Jesus model, we have the Book of Revelations (or its premillenialist misinterpretation) and the Hebrew Scripture view of the Messiah as one in the manner of David and establish an earthly kingdom, to thank for the picture of Jesus smiting the ungodly with relish and delight. Contrast that, again, with the Gospels, and we see a Jesus who rejected power and might as options again and again--first, in the Wilderness Temptation, again when Peter calls him the Messiah and Jesus essentially tells him, "Shut up, you don't get it! (I'm not that kind of Messiah)", and again, when he does not resist his captors who lead him away to his torture and death. Passive, non-violent,  resistance all the way!

 

I would argue that prosperity has it's place. This scripture hints as to where.

 

"But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you."

 

To Jesus, prosperity is not the goal. Godly living is the goal. This is how our needs are met. The blessing of prosperity is a byproduct of Godly or 'in tune' living.

 

 

True, but I think our needs were to be met by sharing. At least that's what the apostles and disciples did in Acts 4:32ff. And Jesus made it clear to those he sent out on missions (first 12, then 70) that they were to take nothing with them, but to rely on the householders they went to.

I would add, too, that we know Jesus spoke of having nowhere to lay his head, and that the only item he owned when he died was his single robe. Yet he was arguably one of the wealthiest or richest people ever to have lived, since he lacked for nothing and lived fully and extravagantly in the service of others...to the degree he would be accused by his detraactors as being a 'glutton and a drunkard'. Abundant living doesn't translate to having an abundance of stuff.

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Abundant living doesn't translate to having an abundance of stuff

 

I understand your point, and that's why I struggle with this preoccupation with stuff. But how can you limit Abundance?

 

Stuff happens...why resist it?

Edited by fatherman
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True, but I think our needs were to be met by sharing. At least that's what the apostles and disciples did in Acts 4:32ff. And Jesus made it clear to those he sent out on missions (first 12, then 70) that they were to take nothing with them, but to rely on the householders they went to.

 

I guess the central idea here is Trust.

 

Yes, faith IS trust. And it seems that faith and hope are intertwined--and love as well. If you have a genuine need, and trust (have faith in) people, they will usually respond.

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Right! Not something you'll hear from Joel Osteen or Rick Warren--and sure as hell not from Jerry Falwell or Pat Robertson!  The theologies that are popular right now--and have been something the Church has struggled with throughout its history--are the Prosperity Gospel that emphasizes material blessing and wealth as sign of God's favor, and a kick ass Gospel with balls that makes Jesus the ultimate warrior. Jesus as Conan the Barbarian.

 

Where does a Prosperity Gospel come from? Certainly not from the message of Jesus! The Book of Proverbs, maybe. But Jesus always focused on the very ones who had to do without--the 'preferential option for the poor' in the language of liberation theology.

 

As for the macho Jesus model, we have the Book of Revelations (or its premillenialist misinterpretation) and the Hebrew Scripture view of the Messiah as one in the manner of David and establish an earthly kingdom, to thank for the picture of Jesus smiting the ungodly with relish and delight. Contrast that, again, with the Gospels, and we see a Jesus who rejected power and might as options again and again--first, in the Wilderness Temptation, again when Peter calls him the Messiah and Jesus essentially tells him, "Shut up, you don't get it! (I'm not that kind of Messiah)", and again, when he does not resist his captors who lead him away to his torture and death. Passive, non-violent,  resistance all the way!

 

I would argue that prosperity has it's place. This scripture hints as to where.

 

"But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you."

 

To Jesus, prosperity is not the goal. Godly living is the goal. This is how our needs are met. The blessing of prosperity is a byproduct of Godly or 'in tune' living.

 

 

True, but I think our needs were to be met by sharing. At least that's what the apostles and disciples did in Acts 4:32ff. And Jesus made it clear to those he sent out on missions (first 12, then 70) that they were to take nothing with them, but to rely on the householders they went to.

I would add, too, that we know Jesus spoke of having nowhere to lay his head, and that the only item he owned when he died was his single robe. Yet he was arguably one of the wealthiest or richest people ever to have lived, since he lacked for nothing and lived fully and extravagantly in the service of others...to the degree he would be accused by his detraactors as being a 'glutton and a drunkard'. Abundant living doesn't translate to having an abundance of stuff.

 

 

Yes, Jesus was a freeloader who lived off women. ;)

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Abundant living doesn't translate to having an abundance of stuff

 

I understand your point, and that's why I struggle with this preoccupation with stuff. But how can you limit Abundance?

 

Stuff happens...why resist it?

 

Yeah, I'm ambivalent about capitalism. It's the goose that lays the golden eggs, and I live in middle-class comfort. And yet, there's all that stuff Jesus said.......

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Abundant living doesn't translate to having an abundance of stuff

 

I understand your point, and that's why I struggle with this preoccupation with stuff. But how can you limit Abundance?

 

Stuff happens...why resist it?

 

Yeah, I'm ambivalent about capitalism. It's the goose that lays the golden eggs, and I live in middle-class comfort. And yet, there's all that stuff Jesus said.......

Yeah! I hear what you're saying. My issue is with the ones who live in excess of any possible need--such as the corporate heads who make hundreds of times what their average employees earn and who live in outrageous luxury. I can't think of one way to morally justify the imbalance and inequity there. There is no excuse for such conspicuous consumption.

 

The "if you've got it, flaunt it" mentality bites. I have seen driving about my end of town a guy in a Jaguar with the personalized license plates, "FATCAT". It was hard for me not to feel contempt for this guy, and I didn't even know him at all!

 

Envy? I don't think so. I tend to have fairly simple tastes and modest needs. I'm quite happy to have a recent model used Toyota Camry (actually, a Chevy Geo--same thing). I have my own home, though, admittedly, it could use some work that I can't afford, but we're compfotable in it, and the work is basically some remodeling that--if it doesn't get done any time soon''so what?!" My entertainment budget consists of the occasional overdue fines. And we're able to eat out now and then at a favorite Indian restaurant. If there is anything that I would want it is a job with decent and affordable medical and dental coverage. I just have a real problem with the shameful and steadily increasing gap between the 'haves' and the 'have nots'.

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Abundant living doesn't translate to having an abundance of stuff

 

I understand your point, and that's why I struggle with this preoccupation with stuff. But how can you limit Abundance?

 

Stuff happens...why resist it?

 

Yeah, I'm ambivalent about capitalism. It's the goose that lays the golden eggs, and I live in middle-class comfort. And yet, there's all that stuff Jesus said.......

Yeah! I hear what you're saying. My issue is with the ones who live in excess of any possible need--sucha as the corporate heads who make hundreds of times what their average employees earn and who live in outrageous luxury. I can't think of one way to morally justify the imbalance and inequity there. There is no excuse for such conspicuous consumption.

 

The "if you've got it, flaunt it" mentality bites. I have seen driving about my end of town a guy in a Jaguar with the personalized license plates, "FATCAT". It was hard for me not to feel contempt for this guy, and I didn't even know him at all!

 

Envy? I don't think so. I tend to have fairly simple tastes and modest needs. I'm quite happy to have a recent model used Toyota Camry (actually, a Chevy Geo--same thing). I have my own home, though, admittedly, it could use some work that I can't afford, but we're compfotable in it, and the work is basically some remodeling that--if it doesn't get done any time soon''so what?!" My entertainment budget consists of the occasional overdue fines. And we're able to eat out now and then at a favorite Indian restaurant. I just have a real problem with the shameful and steadily increasing gap between the 'haves' and the 'have nots'.

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Abundant living doesn't translate to having an abundance of stuff

 

I understand your point, and that's why I struggle with this preoccupation with stuff. But how can you limit Abundance?

 

Stuff happens...why resist it?

 

Yeah, I'm ambivalent about capitalism. It's the goose that lays the golden eggs, and I live in middle-class comfort. And yet, there's all that stuff Jesus said.......

Yeah! I hear what you're saying. My issue is with the ones who live in excess of any possible need--sucha as the corporate heads who make hundreds of times what their average employees earn and who live in outrageous luxury. I can't think of one way to morally justify the imbalance and inequity there. There is no excuse for such conspicuous consumption.

 

The "if you've got it, flaunt it" mentality bites. I have seen driving about my end of town a guy in a Jaguar with the personalized license plates, "FATCAT". It was hard for me not to feel contempt for this guy, and I didn't even know him at all!

 

Envy? I don't think so. I tend to have fairly simple tastes and modest needs. I'm quite happy to have a recent model used Toyota Camry (actually, a Chevy Geo--same thing). I have my own home, though, admittedly, it could use some work that I can't afford, but we're compfotable in it, and the work is basically some remodeling that--if it doesn't get done any time soon''so what?!" My entertainment budget consists of the occasional overdue fines. And we're able to eat out now and then at a favorite Indian restaurant. I just have a real problem with the shameful and steadily increasing gap between the 'haves' and the 'have nots'.

 

I'm pretty much in the same boat. We've lived in the same house, a small split, for the past 26 years. Our only car is 8 years old. Call it lack of ambition, but I don't wan't much more.

 

I agree about the disparities in pay. Some of these guys at the top demand pay cuts from the workers, while creating golden parachutes for themselves. (Certainly not all CEOs are that way)

 

One reason I like Whole Foods is that the head guy makes only 14 times what the newest hire makes.

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Abundant living doesn't translate to having an abundance of stuff

 

I understand your point, and that's why I struggle with this preoccupation with stuff. But how can you limit Abundance?

 

Stuff happens...why resist it?

 

Yeah, I'm ambivalent about capitalism. It's the goose that lays the golden eggs, and I live in middle-class comfort. And yet, there's all that stuff Jesus said.......

Yeah! I hear what you're saying. My issue is with the ones who live in excess of any possible need--sucha as the corporate heads who make hundreds of times what their average employees earn and who live in outrageous luxury. I can't think of one way to morally justify the imbalance and inequity there. There is no excuse for such conspicuous consumption.

 

The "if you've got it, flaunt it" mentality bites. I have seen driving about my end of town a guy in a Jaguar with the personalized license plates, "FATCAT". It was hard for me not to feel contempt for this guy, and I didn't even know him at all!

 

Envy? I don't think so. I tend to have fairly simple tastes and modest needs. I'm quite happy to have a recent model used Toyota Camry (actually, a Chevy Geo--same thing). I have my own home, though, admittedly, it could use some work that I can't afford, but we're compfotable in it, and the work is basically some remodeling that--if it doesn't get done any time soon''so what?!" My entertainment budget consists of the occasional overdue fines. And we're able to eat out now and then at a favorite Indian restaurant. I just have a real problem with the shameful and steadily increasing gap between the 'haves' and the 'have nots'.

 

I'm pretty much in the same boat. We've lived in the same house, a small split, for the past 26 years. Our only car is 8 years old. Call it lack of ambition, but I don't wan't much more.

 

I agree about the disparities in pay. Some of these guys at the top demand pay cuts from the workers, while creating golden parachutes for themselves. (Certainly not all CEOs are that way)

 

One reason I like Whole Foods is that the head guy makes only 14 times what the newest hire makes.

I've heard that about Whole Foods, and I like that and other somewhat 'subversive' things about the store. Sorta like Ben and Jerry's does groceries! :D

 

We have one that opened up in my city recently, bit it's clear on the other side of town. Takes a good half hour to get there through often heavy traffic. We go, but not as frequently as I would if it were more convenient.

 

By the way, I would harldy call being content with 'enough' as a lack of ambition. Live simply that others may simply live.

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