We are betting on a losing horse if we believe that increased consumer spending is the answer to America’s financial crisis.

In these times of population explosion, ecological crisis and their partner in death, worldwide famine; when the rich in this country are getting richer and the poor poorer; when the U.S. military budget, at $717 billion in 2010, is more than 50 percent of the entire federal budget, buying more stuff is an addict’s solution to our materialistic addiction.

Of course, everyone willing to work needs a job. Adequate health care and basic nutrition for all of us are goals a decent society seeks for its people. There is an economic component to getting this country well, but more significantly, there is a spiritual component.

It’s about getting our hearts into the solution. It’s about overcoming our fear-motivated economic and national policies with dedication to achieving the common good rather than consuming more goods. Rather than talk policies, let me tell you what it would look like if we lived with that dedication.

A good friend and colleague of mine died last year after a full and joyful life. He lived his life according to a simple promise to me and, as far as I could tell, everyone he knew: “I’m willing to have my life disrupted for you.” He learned it from Jesus. His name was Dan Apra.

Dan was raised a Baptist. In his Mexican American family’s Southern California church, the love of God in Jesus for every human child, including Dan, was believed and rejoiced in. That is where Dan learned that when you feel the Holy Spirit you say “Amen!”

His seminary education at Rochester Divinity School in New York shaped his liberal Christian theology. He left the Baptists to minister in the United Church of Christ, but he never lost his “Amen!”

It was fresh air in worship to us more staid Congregationalists when, almost every Sunday, his “Amen!” sounded out expressing approval, encouragement and enthusiasm. Gradually others of us joined his chorus.

Dan had passion for many things, but for none more than social justice. He championed the causes that sought compassion and justice for all the marginalized in our country and world, adding his “Amen!” to the demands of all the justice heroes who, as Moses before them, cried, “Let my people go!”

Dan, who loved easily, shared a glass of wine with friends as often as he was able, tasted life and enjoyed it, was a man for others. His life and faith radiated Jesus-inspired integrity. It was shown as he lived his promise, kept daily, that he was ready and willing to have his life disrupted for you.

You need to know that he was no pushover. He could say “No!” as well as “Amen!” He knew a con man or woman when he saw one, but he knew God loved them too. While they were denied his support, they were not denied his affection.

As I think about Dan, it occurs to me that his generous spirit and lifestyle have a lot to do with the fact that he wasn’t afraid of material poverty as much as spiritual poverty. He lived his faith; for him it was good to have stuff, but it was just as good to give it away, in fact, better.

Everyone has the right to earn a living, to be fed, housed, get adequate health care and a good education. But even more relevant to our happiness and the world’s well-being is our honoring our shared humanity and sharing.

It is a matter of having enough faith in the power of gratitude and generosity to be less afraid of losing our stuff than of losing our kindness. It means learning how to be willing to disrupt our lives for one another.

More stuff, more locks and fewer taxes aren’t the answer. More love is.

Dan says, “Amen!”

Bill Gregory is an author and retired minister. He can be reached at: [email protected]