The widening gap between rich and poor is creating massive strains on the economy as well as darkening attitudes towards each side’s perception of the other. Despite the so-called “Rich Dad/Poor Dad” dichotomy-based school of thought, here are some thoughts to consider when comparing who is really rich and who is really poor.
Most wealth is not achieved solely through hard work. Sorry to say it, upper-crust, but luck is a major factor in how you built your fortune. Yes, the phrase “luck is the intersection of preparation and opportunity” often holds true, but even the savviest business expert knows that one can make a glaringly wrong turn at that intersection if one is convinced one side looks golden while the other side looks bronze. Also, even the smartest investor knows that, every once and in a while, a “more, more, more” mentality can lead to having a word written all over one’s face: sucker.
Not all poor and low-income earners are angry at rich folks. This anger usually stems from rich folks who are out-of-touch with the problems of those in the low-income brackets, take advantage of them to pump up their own fortunes, or think that low-income earners and the poor don’t deserve basic human dignity because of their station. Many low-income earners are actually quite happy and content with their surroundings. There is true wisdom in the adage of a man being a slave to his possessions. How many guys who drive a used car really worry about what type of leather seats they have? Very few.
Not all rich folks look down on the poor and lower class. There is the story of the owner who labored all day, became wealthy through his business, but continued to work because he loved his labor. One day, one of his managers, who was well paid and flaunted it, treated a customer like dirt, and then asked if that customer was on welfare because of how dirty his clothes were. That manager had no idea the owner was there because the owner was that very same customer. The very next day, the owner called that manager into his office and fired him for forgetting his humanity. Too many on both sides forget this lesson, but really need to remember it (especially those in the world of professional punditry).
It’s not always real wealth. There is a concept of “credit rich and cash poor” which was exposed during the 2008 Recession. When the mortgage bubble popped, billions of dollars thought to be real wealth turned out to be Monopoly Money, little more than a fanciful number on a balance sheet attributed to a volatile market which was badly overpriced. Some most of the well-off in society often owe their fortunes to the perception of wealth rather than the reality of good fortune. How many people can actually convert their investments and portfolios into enough cash to pay off their mortgage, car, other credit and still leave breathing room for one-month’s-income emergency fund. The short answer is “very, very few.“
Gratitude truly brings peace. When one is grateful for what they have, they tend to give more to others, and this leads to a greater sense of inner peace. Those who always want more are the ones who tend to forget about the less fortunate and helping others, and generally end very ill at ease with their own situation and, thus, tend to have a dimmer outlook on life. Gratitude also lends itself to forgiveness, compassion and a general desire to make the world a better place. That said, the world needs a lot of more grateful people.