Tag Archive | "wealth"

Money Talks

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Despite the concept that all people are created equal, some feel that they are entitled to special treatment.  As you may have guessed, many of these folks drive luxury automobiles loaded with state-of-the-art technology, and look down their noses upon those of us who don’t.  This attitude is ludicrous because we “poor folk” are typically smarter and more independent than our wealthier counterparts.  At least we know which side of the car houses the gas tank and the proper way to refill our windshield washer fluid.


I had the opportunity to observe a hoity-toity customer as I shopped in a convenience store recently. The lady in question was complaining rather vociferously to the cashier about having to step out of her car to enter the store to buy oil for that vehicle.  She said she was driving a Porsche and had no clue as to the type of oil she should buy.  She wondered why the oil was not stored outside, and then added that one of the guys working the gas pumps should fetch the oil for her.  As I recall, President Lincoln abolished slavery well over a century ago.  This snooty customer sounded like the type of person who enjoys making others’ lives miserable by assuming that her wealth entitles her to a higher social status than the men pumping the gas.


I am not saying that all rich people act rudely and pompously.  John Travolta, for instance, was brave and selfless when he flew desperately needed supplies to New Orleans in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.  He performed similar humane deeds in assisting the people of Haiti after the earthquakes of several weeks ago.  Travolta’s actions seem to reflect the heart of one who genuinely cares for his fellow human beings, instead of acts of self-aggrandizement. Although this man has made millions of dollars, his compassion for others paints him as one of the good guys who does not have a superiority complex.


Financial situations can change in a heartbeat, particularly in this economy.  Instead of giving orders, the rich could be taking them in the future.  The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away — sometimes, right quick!  With people losing their jobs faster than a speeding bullet, the rich cannot count indefinitely on their elevated status.


While I don’t hate the people who possess wealth, I think they should treat the rest of us with dignity and respect.  I do, however, dislike the practices of name-dropping and the slapping of American Express and Platinum cards on the counter, as if such behavior will earn them better service.  It tickles my funny bone, though, to know some of the wealthy are really cheapskates.  Some try to hoard points for a free trip, and then turn around and say that they wouldn’t travel less than First Class!


Self-entitled people seem to be more critical of everything.  Nothing seems to satisfy them.  How can it, since they already own everything?  They keep up with the Joneses with the latest fashions, jewelry, expensive cars, and bigger and better homes, breathing, “I so deserve this!” to anyone willing to listen.  How does one determine who really deserves what in this world?  It has been my personal experience that you get what you get, and that there are no guarantees in this life.  This is a lesson that we would all do well to learn early on in life.


Instilling children with an attitude of superiority is not the proper way to raise them.   Kids have to learn the value of things, and how to support themselves.  As they grow into adulthood, spoiled little rich kids have a tough time finding mates, since their expectations are so high.  Some real life Romeo and Juliet couples never make it to the altar due to mismatched financial backgrounds.  What a shame, if those couples are truly in love. Money comes and money goes, but finding a soul mate is not an easy task.


Another problem is learning to take care of oneself by managing one’s own assets and, of course, earning those assets in the first place.  Anyone who has seen the movie Ground Hog Day knows how grueling it can be to wake up and repeat the same things over and over again … such as going to work!  Work, however, produces that rewarding and oh so necessary paycheck.


If someone else gives us wads of cash without asking, in return, exorbitant interest rates or even that we pay the money back, we might not refuse such a generous offer.  However, when we get something for nothing, there is no sense of real accomplishment.  Once we understand that our ability to achieve our goals lies within ourselves, our self-esteem soars.  When I was young, there were not many opportunities to make a little money, unless my siblings and I did some chores around the house, such as washing the dinner dishes, dusting, cleaning the windows, or babysitting the younger kids.  So, when I was able to save up the small amount that I had earned, it was a wonderful feeling to purchase some little trinket.  Knowing that I had worked made the object so much more valuable to me.


Our true value is not monetary; rather, it is how our lives unfold and what we give to this world for the greater good.  It’s nice to collect beautiful things and possess expensive objects, but don’t let want of material items eat your soul if you cannot afford them.  If you give in to greed and jealousy, you develop a cruel and hard edge; you will never understand the art of appreciating what is really important. 


So do yourself and everyone around you a favor, if you are well off.  Don’t act as if you are more deserving of rewards here on Earth than the next person.  There is a karmic reason why you were born into your current circumstances.  The same holds true for working class men and women: we were born into our own circumstances in order to learn life lessons and thus evolve.  If you were born into the latter category, your situation can be a hard pill to swallow.  If this helps you to get through the day, just think of how many wealthy people are not happy.  They may be addicted to drugs or pull stunts like some rich and famous people, as cries for attention.  As the Italian saying translates, “Money does not buy happiness, but it does calm the nerves.”   To this motto, I am adding, “Providing it is not used to denigrate others less fortunate.” 

Wealth in Poverty

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Beatitude

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.

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