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Itchy Palm
Photo: Fintan Boyle
On a recent trip to the U.S. Virgin Islands, I found something that flourishes there besides jungle. No, it wasn’t the beautiful, white sand beaches, although they were in abundance. Nor, was it the aqua blue Caribbean – warm, swimable, see through glass to relax in. I’m not even thinking of the plentiful supply of prehistoric looking iguanas munching on lettuce leaves (and occasional fingers) offered by tourists. Not even, the daily showers and nightly breezes that provided welcome relief from the dank humidity that hung in the air like a wet beach towel.

I’m thinking instead of something that lurked below the surface of the charm and beauty of this island paradise. I’m talking about Itchy Palm. No, this is not some dreaded tropical variety of poison oak. Nor, is it a distant relative of the Queen Anne, or the Date Palm. Itchy Palm is another name for greed.


You see, there is little to no public transportation available on the islands, so tourists are at the mercy of taxi drivers. These men (I saw no women) charge each person in their oversized cabs a separate fare. For example, a taxi driver hauling 20 people from the airport in Charlotte Amalie in St. Thomas to the bay at Red Hook, charges each person in the cab $11 to $15 dollars. That’s $220 -$300 for a 25-minute drive! Of course, some of the smaller taxis hold only 10 people, in which case, the driver only makes around $130 for a half hours work. Can you believe that some cabbies even look for a tip, to boot?

Of course Itchy Palm is also alive and well on the rest of the planet, where the cost of oil per barrel continues to drive gasoline prices through the roof (or should I say the headliner)? It pervades our culture as products are advertised and marketed that are harmful such as junk food, cigarettes and alcohol. And, it fuels a host of legal and illegal activities that set the stage for human suffering, such as drug abuse, human smuggling, gambling and prostitution.

Jesus warned about greed when He told us that the love of money is the root of all evil. Money itself is not evil, for it can be used for many good things. But the love of money skews our priorities to the point where we make it our god. In the process, we trample over whoever gets in our way of acquiring more. But no matter how much we amass, it is never enough. For only one thing can satisfy the longings of the human heart, and that one thing is God.

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By Kathy A. Lewis. Copyright © 2014 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelines.

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