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Trying to debunk the claims of a pyramid scheme in your second language is surprisingly challenging.

So mostly I let her talk.

She was my age, but something about her eyes made me feel she was much older. Even when she laughed, it didn’t quite reach into their dark recesses.

She was telling me how I could become the next Bill Gates. All I had to do was sign up with her company. They sell vitamins, cosmetics, and house cleaning supplies in over 80 countries – all-natural and much better than common store brands.
“They’d better be,” I affirmed, “since they’re so much more expensive.”
She laughed.

Graphs and charts drawn in her notebook quickly illustrated her points. Some people make money off of other’s labor and some people labor to make money for those [the big] people, she said. Which people would I rather be?
She showed me how once I was part of the pyramid, I could be making money off of everyone below me.
I pointed out how I’d be making money for everyone above me.
She ignored that comment.

I sat through her hour long presentation as she tried to inspire me that all of my dreams could come true if only I had access to the money available by being a part of this “network”. But our time was coming to an end and she could tell she’d failed to convince me. I knew this wasn’t our last conversation about it.

“You’ve explained this whole thing very, very well,” I said, gathering my things. “I can tell you’ve spent a lot of time thinking about it. But now I have a question for you. There’s a verse that says, ‘What’s the benefit for a man if he gains the whole world, but loses his soul’. You should think about if your soul and relationship with God are in as good a state as your presentation about this business.”

She looked for a second as if she might cry, but quickly laughed. “I could tell you all about God,” she said.

“No answer now,” I said. “Just think about it, because it’s an important question.”

Then we parted ways.

It’s a question I come back to a lot.

What would it profit me if everyone thought well of me, but I lost my soul?

What would it profit me if I were the best at everything I set out to do and won awards, but lost my soul?

Would it really be all that profitable?

No answers now.

Because if I answer, the question will cease to haunt me.