Wealth or Health?

Today our lessons took us to Istanbul in the 1500’s, and we learned about Suleyman the Magnificent.  What a fascinating person!  He conquered many lands (read-people) and was the longest-ruling Sultan–46 years–of what is known as the Ottoman Empire.  He ruled during the height of the Empire’s military, economic, and political power.  He was a patron of the arts and architecture.  He was also known as a poet, and many of his writings are regarded as Turkish proverbs now.


Suleyman the Magnificent
Suleyman the Magnificent

I dug a little deeper after we finished reading, and I found a few of Suleyman the Magnificent’s writings.  One of them I read aloud to my littles.


The people think of wealth and power as the greatest fate,

But in this world a spell of health is the best state.

What men call sovereignty is a worldly strife and constant war;

Worship of God is the highest throne, the happiest of all estates


I read it to them twice, and then I thought, what the hey–let me see if they grasp any of this at all.  “Do you understand what he’s saying here?”

Stares.  Crickets.

So I decided to focus on the first two lines.  We read them again.

“So what do you think he’s saying is best to have in life?  Wealth and power or health?”

Our Princess piped up almost immediately.  “Health!  Good health!”

I nodded.  Okay, now we were getting somewhere.  “Do you agree?  Is having good health better than having wealth and power?”

My girl thought he was right.  And then Cooter, Mr. Contrary, decided to share his thoughts.

“Nope, it’s better to have wealth.  Money!”  Of course he does.  This is, after all, the little guy who wants real estate as a present.

“Really?  I mean, what can you do with all of that money if you are sick?  Not well?”

“Well, see,” he started, “if you have money you can buy the good food that will keep you healthy.”  He stopped for a minute as I sat there thinking I might be in trouble.  He was absolutely right. “And, if you have money you can get plumbing.”

Plumbing?  I wondered where he had heard about sewage issues.  Or how he equated money with indoor plumbing.

“Plumbing, buddy? How will that keep you healthy?”

“Mama, if you have money, you can get plumbing, and the plumbing will give you clean water.  And you have to have clean water to stay healthy.”

*jaw hits the floor*

That moment when you realize your child has been taking it all in, and some of it actually stuck.

Yeah.  THAT one.


We talked a little more about folks who don’t have clean water, and how that changes the world, and I gave thanks in my heart as we talked.  They get it.  They realize that there are people in this world who have to walk long distances to get water in a bucket and carry it all the way back to their homes, missing school and other opportunities that would help their lives–all because they don’t have access to clean water.

Clean water can make you healthy.  Cooter said so.

Tonight I’m thankful, once again, for the opportunity I have to learn with my children.  It is a fascinating journey and a privilege.  I am teary-eyed with gratitude that my children have been listening to my conversations about justice and the world’s needs.  And that they are getting it.  The fact that my almost eight year old knows that you need clean water to be healthy, and that you need plumbing which requires money–that has me feeling rather emotional.  These little people we are raising or helping others raise–they are the ones who will be taking care of us one day.  It is my hope that they will do it with compassion, love, and laughter.  I saw a glimmer of hope for that day in our conversations this morning.

Because yeah, we did laugh.  As usually happens, our lesson ended with one or the other sending all of us into fits of giggles.  And oh,  how I love their laughter.

Wishing for all good health and the wealth needed to stay that way, with just enough extra to help someone else have clean water too.

Love to all.


Living Water International and Advent Conspiracy are where me and mine learned about the world’s clean water supply–and the lack thereof.  You can learn more by clicking on their names.  



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