Tag Archive | "problems of wealth"

Wealth in Poverty

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To Jesus in the Gospel of Saint Luke is attributed the expression “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.”  For me and, I am certain, most others, the thought of impoverishment is anything but a “blessed” state in which to find oneself, whether one’s poverty is material or spiritual.  And so, is Jesus telling his audience to hang in there and suffer in this life to be rewarded in the hereafter?  Perhaps, but I think not.


I believe that the meaning has more to do about the nature of poverty, rather than its earthly manifestations.  One who is impoverished lacks the resources to adequately provide for himself and, by extension, others dependent upon him.  These resources are in part material, like money and property, but also spiritual, as in strength, confidence, vigor, and other intangible assets.


Those in the throes of poverty are emptied of all resources, like a once overflowing stream reduced to a trickle by a lengthy drought.  Bereft of most forms of sustenance including, in many cases, their human dignity, the impoverished cannot be said to live so much as exist.  Surely, no one would willingly submit to such an existence.


And yet, the state of impoverishment can be a “blessing,” depending upon your perspective.  In common understanding, wealth is synonymous with material gain and pride in achievement or station in life.  To be and to remain “wealthy,” however, requires maintenance, “for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”  How many of us have come to the realization that our material possessions own us?  How mentally and physically draining is it to preserve one’s reputation, image, or area of expertise?  How often has ego, born of confidence and unrealistically high personal expectations, limited our abilities to relate on a purely human level with others?


Wealth creates its own baggage in life and, like the links of the chain borne by Jacob Marley’s ghost in Charles Dickens’ classic – “A Christmas Carol,” its weight can grow over time, robbing its possessors of the freedom that they believe it provides them.  Poverty, in contrast, can be liberating.  Unfettered from concerns about possessions and social standing, the impoverished, emptied spirit can humbly seek new opportunities, form new opinions, and establish new relationships.  It is this “blessed” state of poverty that I believe Jesus was establishing as a condition for those seeking initiation into the “kingdom of God.”


As so often is the case, meaning in life is defined by contradiction.  In weakness, one is strong.  Through despair comes hope and compassion.  In humility, one is glorified.  In poverty, one gains true wealth.

Big Dreams, Bigger Problems

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Mega Millions

When multi-state lottery prizes rise to tens and even hundreds of millions of dollars, all ticket holders aspire to win.  Until the winner is announced, you ride a wave of hope, fantasizing about attaining the status of millionaire.  Don’t you?  The wheels in your brain keep spinning as you envision the fancy new car or dream home you might buy, or how you might establish your own business or perhaps take a vacation in an exotic land.   While you daydream of all these exciting potentialities, do you consider the major problems that you might encounter as one of the nouveau riche?


The media is chock-a-block with scandals of Hollywood stars that must assume they are invincible because of their money.  Their ranks swell with those caught shoplifting things they can easily afford, cracking up cars, doing drugs, abusing alcohol, and beating up innocent hotel clerks with telephones.   Since you’ve never graced the silver screen, you might assume you are protected against “the root of all evil.”  Think again.  Are you prepared for the media to hound you?  And how safe are your children?  Plenty of unscrupulous and twisted people would have no qualms about kidnapping your children for a hefty ransom.


Consider all the people who would crawl out of the woodwork looking for a handout: charities you have previously supported with small donations or relatives you barely know looking for handouts. When money is involved, there is no shortage of people wanting to grab some.  The latter group will spin sob stories, playing on the fact that you are related to them to work all the angles.  Then, of course, there are those who would bring a wrongful lawsuit against you in the form of harassment charges or even a staged accident.


Getting a piece of your pie can be quite simple for a poser, if you deign to serve up that slice.  Financial investment specialists, for instance, can talk you into sinking your funds into, well, sinking funds. Or they could tie up your assets so that you have no access to them.  Greed is always a powerful motivator for the creativity of the crafty.


Even if you manage to navigate unscathed through this landscape of ne’er do wells, you can trip on a land mine of your own making. You might think that money will not change who you are, but is that really true?  If you are planning to live on your winnings, you will have to formulate a game plan that will sustain you in the long-term.  This is especially true if you are contemplating quitting your current job to live “the good life.”


You will need a good tax attorney and a financial planner.  You’ll have to plan how to spend your money over a long period of time instead of blowing the whole wad, spur of the moment.  As the old saying goes, “Sleep on it for awhile.”  Resist the temptation to do a lot of impulse spending.  I realize that you may want to celebrate by throwing a big party and inviting all of your friends and family.  However, it is much more financially sound to keep things on a much lower key level. You can’t be flying everyone to some island for a week. 


So before you go out to get your golden ticket for the millions of dollars, you should probably create a journal about how you might wish to change your life, should you hit the jackpot. Make it your dream book.  If you do win, it will help keep you grounded.


Likewise, your newfound wealth will attract many people who want to be your friends.  Again, don’t forget your old friends, those who have stood by you through thick and thin.  Regardless of your financial status, you will need people you can trust in your life and who better to fulfill that role than those “who knew you when.”

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