Friday, June 24, 2011

Another kind of wealth

Barron's: The Dow Jones Business and Financial Weekly published (August 11, 2003) a letter to the editor, in which I wrote the following:

I was delighted with one of your recent cartoons (Mailbag, Aug 4). Two well-fed men are on a commuter train and one says to the other, "All the harping about the rich getting richer; what are they supposed to do?" I propose a basic answer. Don't expect the rich to give away money or have fewer tax breaks. But expect the rich to use their own time wisely, to go deep into the meaning of their own lives, finding the way to real happiness. Those who do so will become different people -- no longer trading the wealth of the human heart and soul for just more material wealth. That would change the world.

Mother Theresa noted that America is a land of spiritual poverty. Everyone, even the poor, have televisions, but poor in spirit. People are valued by the things they have, not their wisdom and spirit. Perfectly intelligent well-off women and men gather to talk about their cars, houses, and things they own or are planning to buy. Often, hiding from themselves, through feigned joy, the feeling that life is meaningless. You are encouraged to spend your life energy getting the right car, right house, right club membership, right clothes, and way of talking - to the point that you forgot that you are, at the bottom, none of these things. Real satisfaction keeps receding into the horizon. Stories are told of people who buy the expensive car, and find a week later they need "something" else to drive them on to achievement.