Rambling on Honesty and Generosity

[author’s note: From our time on deployment.]


June 27, 2010

I’m not a big coffee drinker. The stuff is all right but I only use it in winter or when I need to stay awake for something. Last week I was feeling really low energy, so I asked my chaplain friend about the coffee in the mess hall. He, being an expert coffee man and aficionado of the roasted bean, brought me a cup with a warning, “These people make it strong.” The first hint was he brought a knife and fork with the coffee. The second hint was it didn’t change from the color black when he mixed in a half pint of milk. I cautiously took a small sip and began chewing.

It didn’t take long for my heart to start racing and I could feel the heat rising in every part of my body. One of the Soldiers stopped to ask if I was all right since my face was bright red. My hands were shaking so much I couldn’t finish my breakfast ice cream (that’s another story). Anyway I was able to complete the morning with lots of work being done. I worked on the computer, answered all my e-mails, wrote two papers and scrubbed down a 2000 square foot tent with a toothbrush. Caffeine is, like all things, good in moderation. The Arabs don’t know what moderation is when it comes to coffee. For a culture that doesn’t drink alcohol, eat pork or shell fish and prays six times daily I guess they had to have one vice—coffee.

When we studied the Arabic culture here in Kuwait and Iraq we learned that the most prized virtues among them, whether they are Islamic or not, are honesty and generosity. If one of our negotiators or translators ever gives a wrong impression or inaccurate information to an Arab, they will never deal with him again. The person must also be ready to accept the generosity of the Arab. When eating with them, you don’t have to eat everything, but you have to eat something of everything (If you have to eat everything you’re in Poland or Ireland). It made me look at my own generosity. Our only real inheritance is the Lord; nothing else is permanent or worthwhile. Have I been generous enough with my earthly goods? More importantly have I been generous in sharing our true inheritance with others, Jesus Christ?


Fr. Richard

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