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You might just as well ask who needs 3000 pairs of shoes or more cars than a fleet of taxis.  Or why some people feel they need to own an island in the Bahamas.  Or why a kingdom in the Middle East needs 10,000 oil-rich princes (descendants of Ibn Saud who had 50 sons !), millionaires since – and by – birth.  Or, after all, why I need two houses.  Nobody NEEDS all that !  The questions are rhetorical, but many of the owners rarely think of people without a domicile and no doors at all, who, if they are lucky, have only one pair of shoes, will never be able to afford a bike let alone a car, who were not born with a gold spoon in their mouth and sleep on our mean streets.  Trump is our contemporary Cresus.  The well-heeled Mrs Imelda Marcos knew how to profit from presidential power.  Wealthy entrepreneurs believe they deserve an island like Branson’s.  Saudi Arabia’s royal family struck black-gold.  And I, rather more modestly, got lucky.  The Haves and the Have-Nots :  it was ever thus.  Jesus told us that the poor will always be with us.  Which means that so will the well-fed who don’t know or care what hunger or altruism means.

Some rebels with a revolutionary cause dream of Utopia, of liberty, equality and fraternity.  Revolutionaries assassinate the wealthy, who are rapidly replaced by the Nouveaux Riches (including some of the former revolutionaries).  Today Danes are the happiest people in the world, the vast majority of whom never complain about their astronomical taxes because everybody’s basic needs are covered by the powers that be.  For as long as we can remember, in other developed countries the rich get richer and the poor have more and more difficulty making ends meet or even just surviving.

Philanthropy we associate with the super-rich like the generous Gates couple, Bill and Melinda.  But all of us, people who without being truly rich can afford, for example, to rent a home or even own a second one, On Zeee Beeech . . . , have a humanitarian obligation to contribute generously to what we call “charities”.  Jesus dared to offer as a model the destitute woman so generous that she gave away her last drachma.  Trump would not miss one (or a dozen) of those diamonds on his doors.  The rest of us have no excuse for exclusively egoistic enjoyment of what we have.  “When you did it for one of these My least brethren, you did it for Me.”  Whether He ever said it or not, whether He even existed or not, the words underline human fraternity, even if we have no Father who art in Heaven.

RIDENDA      RELIGIO

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