Most people who live in poverty or the middle class do not believe that rich people have ‘problems.’ And if they do, their problems are related to being privileged and having preferences, which is often accurate (i.e. where will be buy our second home?, I hope I get accepted into the club, et cetera). So from the perspective of the poor and middle class, it is difficult to empathize or sympathize with the rich or wealthy because they themselves are struggling with trying to feed their family and not be homeless. Fair enough.
In an effort to connect us all in a more human way, let’s look at the types of problems the rich and wealthy have – heck, let’s even throw in celebrities since their reputation serves as a form of currency.
Rich people struggle with relationships, self-esteem, social skills, acceptance, love, depression, anger, fear, power, control, respect and feelings of being unworthy. Wait, that sounds like the same problems that poor and middle class people have!
Are you surprised? Well if you are, you are not alone. Many people forget, even the rich and wealthy, that we all are human and struggle with the same feelings, needs, and desires. These struggles just look different depending on our circumstances but trust me, the feelings are still the same.
Now, before you type that ridiculous email to me or leave a comment about my defense of the rich – stop. I am far from defending the rich – or poor for that matter – or making excuses for either group. There are plenty of wealthy, poor and middle class people alike who are as dumb as a doorknob and lazier than a sloth. Hell, there are at least three in my family.
While it is true that the rich have more than their basic needs met, their wealth does not shield them from the conflicts and challenges of life and being human. Their wealth simply allows them to either run from their problems (literally and figuratively) or access resources that could help them address their issues.
Look, I have worked with plenty of new and old money across cultures as well as people who are poor or from the middle class, and I can honestly say that the problems experienced by each group is six in one hand and half a dozen in another.
On the one hand, when someone is unable to have their basic needs met like food, housing and medical, they experience a stress that is choking or at the very least suffocating. Apathy becomes more likely to set in and difficult to recover from. In the end, being able to create the life you want for yourself or family becomes a luxury because you are trying to survive.
On the other hand, when someone has tons of money, they are often faced with suffocation and apathy of a different kind – connection. Connection to the rest of the world, the bigger world, becomes cut off and far removed unless they make a concerted effort to remain connected. This becomes harder to do over time for a number of fairly legitimate reasons. After a while, they begin to feel like they only matter insomuch as they are able and willing to financially support different causes and investments. Hence the phrases, “It’s lonely at the top” and “Your real friends are the ones who liked you when you had nothing.”
IN THE END
The point I am trying to make is that in the end, it does not matter if you are rich or poor; it’s all cornflakes. Money is just a tool; nothing more nothing less. Regardless of race, gender, culture or orientation, we wonder the same thing: “Do you see me? Do I matter to you? Are you proud of me? Did I make a difference?” We feel the same pain, rejection, love, passion, anger, fear, loneliness, guilt and shame. What matters in this lifetime is how you treated yourself/other people and the impact you made on humanity (however big or small). This is where the playing field is leveled: you can do exceedingly well in those three areas regardless of your socioeconomic status.
There is a saying that old people who give away their money and become nicer right before they die do so either because they want to get in good with God or screw their family. If that is true, there are going to be some really disappointed dead people. From what I understand, you can’t buy your way into heaven or buy or get a cooler seat in hell; and from what I hear, they do not give credit for pain or suffering either. As for screwing your family, why do you care? You’re dead. If you’re going to give your money away, do it because 1. it’s the right thing to do, 2. you really believe in the cause or 3. you’ve seen the err of your ways and want to make it right. I’m sure God gives credit for that.
“If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other [therefore] have compassion for the rich and poor alike, some suffer too much and others not enough.” ~ Mother Theresa
Thoughts? Do share!