Own Your Wealth

At the risk of adding to the never-ending cacophony of thoughts on the state of our economy, I would mention the following overheard comments:

“With this recession, I can’t get my kids what they want for Christmas.”
“When I can’t buy a new pair of shoes, something is really wrong.”
“What? I can’t even buy my dog a Christmas present!”

A wise man (named Bob Lynn) made the observation that Christians in wealthy circles have had the tendency to reinterpret the Bible’s injunctions to care for ‘the poor’ as those who are ‘poor’ spiritually or emotionally. In other words, interpret in such a way that the wealthy can include themselves among the poor. It is a necessary thing for the rich to understand their own poverty in non-material ways, but the effect of the above reinterpretation once again leaves the poor ignored.

Current economic talk involves a large amount of class rhetoric, but I fear that this is accomplishing something of the same thing, in a different way. The American poor (who are still the wealthy of the world) can point to the American rich and decide that they are the poor, relatively. The American rich can look to the American ultra-rich, and say the same thing.

I fear that we will continue to wander in half-truths until we put aside these characterizations, which are only true relatively, and start dealing with absolutes. Who are we, in reality? We in America are the wealthy, and this is not just another comparison, but the absolute scale of the population of mankind. An understanding of how much material wealth we have in relation to the rest of the world is not just a useful mental exercise to remind us of all we have. It is an uncovering of reality, and should permanently replace the relative constructs we use within domestic circles.

What is the cost of this paradigm shift? We become the wealthy, and the responsibility that we apportion to the rich falls on us. Who should fund this? Who should care for the poor? Us. All of us. Before we set out on proper discussion of money and economy, we must first own our wealth. This acknowledgement will cost us, but it is true.


Anonymous said...

Hey guys,
Interesting post. I heard a wonderful talk from Mick Antinaitis on Sunday on finances, wealth, and living in such a way as to be generous to others (a 3 part series from Brian, Don, and Mick) and would recommend it if ever you have time to listen to it. I think Bemont posts podcasts on their website.