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Thursday, August 29, 2013

Who Are the Rich?

My grandmother on my father’s side, Grandma Hahn, once said to me, “Your Grandma Darling is a very good cook.” Then she added, “But, of course, she uses a lot of butter.”  

The thing that brought this to mind was an article I just read in the newspaper. It had to do with the richest people in the world. I decided to look up the word rich to see all the definitions. In the dictionary. no. 4 said, “full of choice ingredients such as butter, sugar, etc.” This blog is going to deal with no. 1, being wealthy in terms of money, possessions, etc.

After naming some of the richest people in the world, the writer posited the idea that there will never be the opportunity for relative equality of wealth in America, even if it is as it’s been known “the land of opportunity.” I wanted to question that argument, but first I needed a better look at the word “rich.” The first definition was as I’d suspected, to be wealthy in money, goods, land, possessions, etc. I didn’t find the definition I was looking for but I’ll see if I can find it in this blog. 

One of the richest persons in America got his wealth from building an empire of gambling casinos. There was a picture of him with the piece and it was, put charitably, not the face of a happy man. Maybe he is aware of how his business preys on the weak, the addictive, those who are willing to throw away their money, their loved ones, their very lives in the hope of getting more money from less. I know nothing more of the man or others like him in that business, so will reserve my judgment of him.

There’s a tendency to portray the extremely wealthy in our world as avaricious, greedy for money and all that it might buy. While that may be true in many cases, sometimes wealth is accumulated by the execution of a good idea that benefits countless people. Reminds me of an old saying: “There’s no sin in being wealthy and no virtue in being poor.” I may not be quoting that right, but you get the idea. 

Maybe my mind was tuned into this frequency today because I was reminded by my son, who is also my financial advisor, that I’m currently spending more money than I’m taking in. I’ll need to deal with that, but right now the subject of wealth makes me wonder why it is that some have it and some don’t. Of course, there’s no one answer to that. 

My own theory is this: Wealth does not come from saving money for the fear of losing it. Sometimes it comes from taking risks in money matters or being just plain lucky. Wealth comes to those who both invest wisely and spend wisely. It also comes to those who do not think Poor. Or, from not wanting more material things.

Most everyone who gets along in years can look back and see how they could be much richer today if they had done this or that at certain junctures in life. My dad used to say, “If I only knew then what I know now, I’d be a wealthy man.” He was a wealthy man because he was simply and honestly real.

If the accumulation of wealth, that is, money, had been my own highest priority I could be a far richer woman today than I am, but I, too, would have had to know the future. In retrospect even choices that seem wrong monetarily can be the right ones.

This I know, that ill-gotten money does not enhance one’s happiness or the sense of well being one gets from the things that are free, like a baby’s smile, a glorious sunset or sunrise, a starry night in the desert or one look of love from someone you love too. 

Money is as good as the good it does. Money can lead to happiness or sorrow only when it’s spent. Until then it’s only paper and ink and some digits on the computer and a source of comfort or worry. 

I’d like to add on to the definition of the word “rich.” I’d say it means being wise in ways beyond money, like love, appreciation, gratitude and courtesy. It might even be in Grandmother Darling’s sugar cookies. She did use butter in them. A lot of it. 

1 comment:

  1. Grandma,
    It is my personal opinion that anyone who has met you is a little 'richer' because of it. I'm saying this because you have a way of seeing life as opportunity, as something given to us like a gift. Everyone has trials and tribulations, but you are one who seeks to learn and grow from these experiences, find the good in them, and this makes you 'rich' with love.