Monday, April 24, 2006

On Wealth

I know people of wealth.

One of these people is my friend Stacy. Their bank balance wouldn't make Bill Gates green with envy or anything.... but Stacy and her family are wealthy in their love for each other and in friendships that reach across oceans and deep into the heart of their city. Places where many fear to go but they go without fear and are received with great love.

I also know people of great bank accounts. Some of these people live very normal lives. You wouldn't know of their wealth by their home or their car. But every now and again they pay for things of great value without blinking an eye. Why? Because that's what they saved for all their lives. To be able to pay for these very things. It's why they drive a beat up old car.... so they can spend it on traveling or retiring early. They are often people of great generosity. They have always tithed to their church. They have contributed extra when needed. The volunteer their time to worthy causes (and always have) and see retirement as a time to do more volunteering and to do so globally.

I also know people who take home more money in one paycheck than many people make in two months. They stick it all in the bank. They don't take it back out again. Unless, of course, it is something important. Like expensive jeans or a big screen TV or a new boat. Some of these folks come to my desk during tax season. When I ask about what they donated to charity they say "How much can I put down with a receipt? $500? Put $500." Or they just say "nothing". Ironically, they complain about the social programs that the liberals force on everyone and raise taxes. Yea...well, those liberals are also donating above what they pay in taxes more often than not too.... These folks are often very conspicuous in their wealth. I see how much they paid for their house and their address. I know what kind of house they have. I see all the registrations for all the cars and other toys requiring a license from the state.

Today, someone I know popped off and said "Annoy a liberal. Be Happy. Work Hard." I took offense but I also wondered about that. The most snarly people that I encountered were those who, between questions, regaled me on their View Of The World and How It Ought To Be. They were the ones when I asked about charity said "no". When I tried to jog their memory and said "Did you give money to the Red Cross for Katrina....or anything..." retorted with "I wouldn't give the Red Cross the sweat off my ass." (yes, that is a direct quote) and "Why would I give anything to Those People??"

They were most definitely conservatives.

They were most definitely unhappy.

Of course "all liberals" and "all conservatives" cannot be classified as one or the other. In fact, in the examples I gave, some consider themselves conservatives and some consider themselves liberals in all examples.

Money really can't buy happiness. I know some very wealthy very unhappy people. But I do think you CAN buy being happy. Of course it's WHAT you buy that is important. Do you 'buy' food for local hunger charities? Do you 'buy' school uniforms for poor children? Or do you buy another handbag or pair of shoes? Are you buying another electronic gizmo even though your 'old' one is really not that different than the new one and is only a year or two old?

Wealth and Happiness.

You can have both. You can have neither. You can have one and not the other. The key is you. If you find yourself becoming more and more unhappy while your bank account is growing... try giving it to those for whom a dollar is as precious as a thousand of them is to you. You won't miss it and it will mean a lot to them.

Bragging about your stuff will only make you look like a schmuck.

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