Rich Man, Poor Man

By Joan S. Peck

The polished shoe of a wealthy man next to the worn out shoe of a poor man.

By now, we have all read enough, listened to enough talks, and attended enough seminars to know how we view life and our prosperity has everything to do with perspective. Glass half full or glass half empty, right? But I dare say, there are very few of us who don’t worry about money for all it represents – power and freedom of choice – for we live in a society that values money no matter the cost of having it. And for most of us, our first thought when regarding prosperity has to do with money. And that alone brings its own problems.

Linda Poindexter says, “Neither a rich man nor a poor man gets to enjoy his money. One is too busy trying to hold onto it, the other is too busy trying to get it.”

We know there has to be balance in life and that life itself is filled with ups and downs. Here is a Buddist story portraying the two sides of wealth: “Once a beautiful and well-dressed woman visited a house. The master of the house asked her who she was. She replied she was the Goddess of Wealth. The master of the house was delighted and so greeted her with open arms. Soon after, another woman appeared who was ugly looking and poorly dressed. The master asked who she was and the woman replied she was the Goddess of Poverty. The master was frightened and tried to drive her out of the house, but the woman refused to depart, saying, “The Goddess of Wealth is my sister. There is an agreement between us that we are never to live apart. If you chase me out, she is to go with me.” Sure enough, as soon as the ugly woman went out, the other woman disappeared.” As most of us know, wealth has its own duality.

Yet, we seem to be on a constant quest for prosperity, come hell or high water – the kind of prosperity that is showy and obvious, causing others to acknowledge it and want it for themselves. We see it all the time in the society pages of different media where the wealthy preen in front of the cameras, believing they are special because of the amount of money they have. If indeed true prosperity includes more than money or soft surroundings, are they actually prospering unless they take that additional step? For to prosper means to succeed and flourish. Yet, there is an unspoken caveat that says you can’t truly flourish unless you are content with who you are and the choices you make about how you treat not only yourself, but others. This is never more apparent than in the following quote:

“If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich.”
John F. Kennedy

In other words, nothing comes without a price to pay – one of obligation. That is the cost of success if you understand and accept the idea of “noblesse oblige” if you truly want to prosper. “Noblesse oblige” is the inferred responsibility of privileged people to act with generosity and nobility toward those less privileged. Yet, today so many of us seem content to push that away and center only on ourselves. And, we only have to look as far as Washington, D.C. to see how that self-centeredness is happening in congress and is affecting all of us in a negative way. That disease of “self-coming first” encourages us with “If they can get away with it, why can’t I?”

The truth of the matter is that for any of us to truly prosper, we need to understand that disease of “self-coming first” doesn’t work for long. Once we understand that we are all ONE, there is no room for our excluding how we treat others. For what we do unto others, we do unto ourselves. There is no satisfaction of gaining for self if it creates less for others. Luckily, many of us are learning what it means to truly prosper and are willing to step out and share this knowledge to those who look up to us for guidance and advice. Read this, believe this, and share this. You will prosper.

This article originally appeared in the Autumn 2017 issue of CHOICES Magazine



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