There's a seemingly insignificant line in an old song written by Kris Kristofferson, made popular by the Sixties Legend Janis Joplin, that has turned out to be a revelation of truth, proven time and again: "Freedom's just another word for 'nothing left to lose'" sings the chorus of "Bobby McGee."
Since we get to play for a lot of well-to-do people, and sometimes for the extremely wealthy, it has been our observation that if what Kristofferson wrote there is true, that the free people must live somewhere else.
Last night we observed another confirmation of Bobby McGee's profound truth, as we played in the luxurious home of a prestigious artist, towering over a spectacular view of the probably most beautiful part of the lake of Constance with a garage full of century old cars, each of which worth a multiple sum of all our meager possessions put together.
It's funny, though, that once you get to know enough of this sort of extravaganza, it pitifully ceases and fails to impress at some point, especially when it becomes apparent that the essence of what really constitutes a rich and fulfilled life is missing from the picture of such abundance.
Most rich people we've had the pleasure to play for so far, usually made an effort to at least try to create an air of equality between themselves and their staff, or any other human beings from strata of society less materially blessed, but that effort was being purposely avoided in this situation, apparently with the intention to impress the laden guests all the more, which gave the unbiased observer the slight impression that perhaps slavery has not been abolished yet down here in the south of Germany.
It gets one thinking. Where is the point where people start building walls of separation between themselves and other humans that set them apart from them, as something - exclusively in their own minds - "better" than their fellowman? What is the sum that one needs to own that entitles them to the claim of being on a higher level than those other, "mere mortals?" - Because it's obvious that such semi-gods deem themselves immortal, or at least they behave in such a way that they would never expect having to stand before their Creator at any point, Who, as it is written, is no respecter of persons, and does not have any preferences based on material criteria.
Maybe "the love of money is the root of all evil" because it's the primary building material for the pride of life that erects those walls around us. After all, it's usually rich people who send their subjects off to kill their fellowman in other countries, and - as it usually turns out - not at all for the noble reasons they claimed their war was necessary for...
It's not that it's wrong or a sin to be rich, but what matters is what your money makes you become, and whether one has the maturity to keep in mind that no amount of possessions will make a difference between themselves and others that will last. Obviously, it takes some folks less to get to the point where they think themselves better than others and separate themselves from "the rest of the mob," or elevate themselves to some self-erected mental shrine of some sacred state above the crowd, and I find it helpful to regularly remind myself of Kris Kristofferson's little piece of wisdom and ask myself, how free am I today? What have I got to lose today?
There's an old German fairy-tale called "Hans im Glueck" (roughly translated "Lucky Jack" or "Hans in Luck"), about a boy who finds out that the more he possesses, the more miserable he becomes, and that the way to happiness is giving it all away. Of course, like most people, I detested that story as a kid. Before I learned the lesson from "Bobby McGee," that is, which happened rather recently.
Jesus put it like this: "A man's life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth." Or in modern English: "Your life does not consist of the bunch of things you own." In fact, a life that consists exlusively of the value of the material things one possesses always turns out to be an empty life, an "empty shell, groomed and fed so well..."
One would think that we, the enlightened society of the 21st century would have grasped such basics of life by now, but since that's obviously not the case, I'm afraid it only proves just how enlightened we really are...
"What would it profit a man to gain the whole world and lose his own soul?" Jesus asked 2000 years ago. The answer is, obviously: nothing. The same amount that would have ensured your happiness during your life-time. So, it all comes back around to nothing. The only difference is whether you'll fall for the illusion of "something" or even "a whole lot," or not.