Something that’s been bouncing around in my head for a while is the idea of wealth. In particular, the accumulation of wealth for the sake of accumulating wealth.
Over the years, there’s been a lot of words spilled over the topic, and most of it seems to be pretty negative. We hear that money is the root of all evil, that greed is bad, that any desire to have more than what you need betrays your lack of moral character.
But honestly, I’ve never bought that.
Instead, I see wealth as power. While it has also been said that power corrupts, that’s not necessarily true either. Power is just attractive to the corruptible. Wealth is no different. Sure, we can find plenty of rich jackasses, they’re jackasses for reason that have little to do with wealth and the power that’s associated with it.
No, wealth is power, but it’s power that you can also use for good in your life and the life of others.
Those are all negative things. The suck.
Yet if money and wealth are somehow evil, the opposite should be some kind of virtue, right? I mean, if the desire to acquire money is a sin, then what is the lack of money?
But the thing is, trying to acquire wealth isn’t evil in and of itself. Like most things, it’s evil when done certain ways or if that wealth is used for certain means, but acquiring wealth in and of itself?
More importantly, wealth is power and what you do with power is what defines someone as “good” or “evil.”
For me, I’ve struggled a lot financially. I’ve been poor as hell. I’ve been flat broke. I remember a few years ago at Christmas, the only reason I even had a Christmas was because the site I was writing for gave me a really nice bonus.
I understand being broke. I also understand trying to accumulate wealth. I’ve outlined my business failures before, but here’s something to understand. I was doing it to try and build up an estate that would take care of my family after I was gone.
Today, too many people decide to “follow their passions” when they go to college, only to find out that their passions can’t keep the lights on in the real world. They end up with useless skills and no means to support themselves, thus making them angry at the whole world for allowing them to get into this predicament.
My goal was, and still is, to provide my kids with enough of a safety net that they can study whatever they want in college and not have to sweat supporting themselves when they get out.
Don’t get me wrong, I want them to be successful. I’d much rather my kids not need my wealth to survive, but I think I’d be a bad parent not to at least want to try.
Now, are my desires evil?
How about the fact that I did everything I could to comply with ever law I was aware about, even if I thought they were stupid, as well as doing my level best to be as ethical as possible?
Accumulating wealth isn’t an evil act. I’m sorry, but it’s not. There are people who think it is, but it’s because they seem to think that you can’t gain wealth without exploiting others. Basically, they think you’re evil because they’re ignorant.
In my mind, one of the bigger problems we have at work in this day and age is the idea that wealth accumulation is somehow evil. I mean, it’s OK to say you’re saving or investing for retirement. People accept that as noble and fine, but saying you actually want to be rich? That’s a sign of a moral failing today.
But it’s not.
I don’t need to be wealthy. I get that and I’ll acknowledge that. I’d be satisfied with just being comfortable. After all, I already live on my own terms in a lot of ways, even if cash still gets tight from time to time. Some folks already think that I’ve won.
Hell, maybe I have.
But on the same token, I still have kids. I’m not sure how to pay for my son’s college education and he’s a high school senior. My daughter is just in first grade, so we have time on that front, but him? He’s going to have to get scholarships or take out loans, and that’s on me for failing.
If you ask me, that is the sin. That
As I’ve said before, wealth represents power. I suspect a number of people will agree with it and say that’s evidence that it’s evil. Why are they wrong?
Because power can also represent freedom.
Wealth gives you the power (freedom) to walk away from an abusive job situation. Trust me, I’ve been in those. Wealth gives you the power
(freedom) to step away from a declining community to better protect your family from the impact of that decline. Wealth gives you the power
(freedom) to help those who are less fortunate than you. Wealth gives you the power (freedom) to take that declining community and try to save it if you don’t want to leave.
All of these are things that you’re free to do because you have the wealth to do it.
Top that off with the more obvious ways wealth can make you feel free. Yes, it can allow you to go anywhere in the world you want to go at the drop of a hate. Yes, it can allow you to buy whatever you want, whenever you want (depending, of course). Yes, you can do all of that too.
The key, though, is how you do it.
You see, those who talk about exploiting people and think you can’t gain wealth without that? Well, they say that because some people actually do. Some will break the law to accumulate wealth. Some will do horrible things in the pursuit of money.
Suffice it to say, don’t do that.
But yeah, you should work your ass off. You should save, invest, build businesses or work extra hours, whatever it takes. Everyone should try something with the intent on building wealth. Frankly, everyone deserves a little power and a whole lot of freedom.