Beliefs, and Definitions
(Who is A Wealthy Person)
A certain schoolboy with an inherent nature of cheerfulness, happiness, and contentment could not understand why his fellow students began referring to him as a poor person. This schoolboy came from a neighborhood where houses were in poor shape, the streets were dirty, there were fewer new cars and nobody in government or the “high class” of society lived in his neighborhood. His school dress, shoes, and bags were not as new as those of many other students, and he couldn’t afford to buy expensive meals during lunchtime at school. Regardless, he never complained. He was rather contented with what he had and who he was. So it baffled him that his fellow students should refer to him as a poor kid from a poor family.
He did not see himself or his family as poor, for as far as he knew, his
parents cared and provided for him to his satisfaction.
Hitherto, it never bothered this young child that his neighborhood was not as expensive looking as that of many other students. It has never bothered him that his school dress, shoes, and bags were not as new or expensive as those of other students. During lunch, he always enjoyed the moderate lunch prepared for him by his mother, and many times he would wonder why students grudge or fight over their expensive meals. His parents had imbibed it in him that contentment is a virtue and he always remained grateful for the little things of life. It was therefore a source of concern to him when his fellow students began referring to him as a poor child. In other words, they were trying to redefine his perception of poverty and wealth. Should he accept their definition?
The Foundation of Opinions, Beliefs, Morality, and Even Law
Life is filled with variations and differing perspectives in many facets. Therefore, it would be expected that people would have various definitions and perspectives in almost everything, but when it comes to “poverty” and “wealth,” there seems to be an almost unconscious consensus to allow the conclusions of a few to determine what is wealth and what is poverty. Incidentally, this has been the case with many societies and generations, although it seems more defined in today’s society and in even then, it is worse in some societies than it is in others. Of course, people and generations are entitled to their opinions and conclusions. In fact it is an aspect of life’s ever flowing nature.
However, it becomes a source of concern as in the case of the schoolboy above, when people try to force their definitions and perspectives on others. The result is that the independence of thought becomes threatened and perhaps gradually eroded. Inevitably, opinions are formed based on wrong impressions and as many begin to buy into such flawed impressions, it becomes the generally
acceptable truth for many believers. It becomes the norm and the one who disagrees or decides
to stay rationale is cast aside as the unbeliever or the unorthodox one. Furthermore, because of such misconceptions, we are going about doing unthinkable things and bringing avoidable stress unto ourselves merely because we want to “appear” normal to others. Some of us choose a lifestyle that appears convenient to
impress others while some who cannot afford such ways of life go into self-guilt mode unconsciously reducing their self worth. Hence you have terms like the rich, the wealthy, the poor, the underprivileged, and so on.
So who is really a wealthy person?
How do we define a wealthy person? Is it the person who wins several millions of dollars in a lottery, game, or gamble, but uses it up in a few years, ending up in debts and a more stress-filled situation than he was before wining the lottery? Is it the person who swindles or defrauds others of their hard earn resources and buys the most expensive cars, houses, yachts, and lives in the most expensive neighborhoods while bothered every day that he would soon be caught or exposed for his fraud? Is it the person who takes advantage of a highly appointed or elected position in a company or government to accumulate material resources for himself and his closest folks, while the general population in the lower cadre of the company or society continue to suffer with little or no resources? Is it the child from a high-income or high-society family who lacks any ability to survive in the real world without the help of his parents’ resources or position in society? Is it the person who has a lot of material acquisitions and cash stacked in his account and yet battles his conscience on how he would take away the little cash or resources available to the struggling man? Is it the person who has too much money than he could count and yet has no peace with his family, friends, or colleagues?
How one would answer may depend on one’s level of consciousness and one’s exposure in life, which includes one’s upbringing. It was the great King Solomon who said: “It is all vanity upon vanity.” There could be no end to the amount of material possession one could amass and there is no standard or guarantee of a level of acquisition that would determine when a person is wealthy or poor for that is relative. In the end the true test of wealth and the worth of a person could be his level of contentment and the value he places on it.
This is only my understanding, and I am still learning.
In the second and concluding PART of this piece, we look at some practical examples of who really is a wealthy person.
Mbamara, May 2007
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Oliver Mbamara is an Administrative Law
Judge with the State of New York. He is also a filmmaker and a Published
Poet and playwright. For more on Oliver, please visit
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