They used to say that cannabis was a ‘gateway’ drug, often leading users down the dark path to the misery of narcotics addiction and death. It’s the same with sin; there are certain gateway sins, for example, self-pity, which is a rather common delusion and leads swiftly to envy, jealousy, greed and so on.
Sometimes when I tell people I live on a tropical island they can easily imagine that I work on the beach for an hour, jump on the Jet Ski and go out to my yacht for lunch, take an afternoon drive in the Aston Martin and back for a sumptuous dinner at my villa sitting on the cool marble terrace with a beautiful sunset. The life of luxury!
Of course living in the third world isn’t quite like that and at times I too can have a bit of self pity living in the cramped, sweltering, polluted metropolis of Manila where beauty spots are as rare as hen’s teeth and the average weekly wage looks more like a good hourly rate from the UK. I even had to trade in the Aston for a bus pass!
There is however one redeeming feature in the third world which is both inescapable and constant. You cannot walk more than 100 yards before you meet someone worse off than you are.
On my last Christmas morning search to find an open shop to get a can of fruit salad, I came across a family who live on an island in the middle of a dual carriageway: husband, wife, mother-in-law and two children under a tarpaulin. While I was in the shop, I was prompted to get a few groceries for them too and selected a few items which could be prepared easily on the street. When I handed them over to the wife, I noticed she was also heavily pregnant..
The antidote to self-pity is probably gratitude to the God, who, whilst not giving equally to all, does nonetheless provide for all the needs of all of us in our temporary dwellings on earth. If life is uncomfortable, that’s probably a good thing, because we were never made for this world, bliss is only for the next world. This life provides us all the opportunities we need to get to the real life we were made for, eternal life in heaven.