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Thank God We Have Everything

In his short story, "The Son From America," Nobel Prizewinning author Isaac Bashevis Singer tells of a young man who emigrates from Poland to America.  For the next 40 years he sends money back home to his parents at regular intervals.

Having made a vast fortune in America, he decides to return home for a visit. His plan is to bring a lot of money in a suitcase, so he can bail his parents and their neighbors out of poverty.

When he does arrive, he sees that nothing seems to have changed in the hardscrabble lives of the villagers.

The son asks his father what he has done with all the money he sent home.  The father retrieves an old boot and shows him how he's filled it with the cash his son has sent him.

"Father, this is a treasure! Why didn't you spend it?"

"On what? Thank God we have everything."

The son asks one question after another, but the father's answer is always the same: they have everything. Their little subsistence farm provides no soft life of comfort, but it does give them all they truly need to get by. garden, the cow, the goat, the chickens provide them with all that they need. The son spends the next day observing the "poverty" of the townspeople. He thinks of the suitcase full of gifts, of his plans to bring wealth to everyone in this village, and he realizes the money will make no real difference, and may even cause harm.

These people need nothing. They truly have everything.
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