The Widow’s Mite
And the Rich Donald the Dumb

Prior to my second visit to Burma, I wrote about Donald the Dumb, our fake president, many times. While my observations are correct, I hadn’t done much dealing with the issue of his wealth, regardless of how he acquired millions. Nevertheless, he is poor, very poor, when it comes to what he does with it.

Interestingly, Burma taught me a great truth, which all humankind ought to grasp. Burma is one of the poorest of the emerging nations in the world today. Most of the population is struggling to make ends meet, but they are delighted to help foreigners. There is a vast difference in income levels between Burmese and Americans. Most Burmese would trade places with any poor person in the States; it would be a step up for them.

What is interesting is that, while they live close to abject poverty, they function well in their lives and are quite happy. It seems counter-intuitive to be happy with less, but it is a reality for most Burmese people.

Enter Donald the Dumb. He lies about his wealth, but he has a great deal of money. He is very much like Silas Marner or Ebenezer Scrooge prior to either of their conversions. Most of the people in Burma don’t need a conversion experience; they are already there.

Then it dawned upon me. I remembered the story of the widow’s mite from the New Testament.

Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts. But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a few cents.

Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on.” Mark 12:41-44

The widow’s offering consisted of two mites, which are called in Greek, lepta. A lepton was the least valuable coin that was used in the Holy Lands at the time. Someone determined that a lepton had the value equivalent to what a person would get paid for six minutes of work.

The widow’s mite, which is smaller than a dime.

The widow’s mite mosaic

I have known this story for most of my life. However, it took me until my trips to Burma until it really sank in. Donald the Dumb is all about America First. What he is actually saying is me first and me alone. He wants more even though he has far more than most. He thinks that he is some Greek deity that came to Earth so as to acquire more money. Nonetheless, the more he acquires doesn’t sedate his cravings. It is an obsession.

Now, Donald the Dumb is a long way away from becoming a new person. That is the backstory. You and I don’t have anything comparable to his net worth. Nonetheless, this essay is about you and me. Haven’t you met average Americans who claim that they are honest but will, in their way, steal like Donald the Dumb? I have. What they are essentially doing is acquiring, often by lying, money and things for themselves.

One of the things that I learned in Burma is that the Burmese are willing to share. In fact, they are like the person in the story of the widow’s mite. Pick either example, the NT story or my learning from the Burmese, and use either or both as the way to model your lives. How you act will determine what you become and how you will be remembered.

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