Rich people
Archie Modequillo (The Freeman) - March 4, 2020 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines — Today’s world is becoming more and more extravagant, and quite wasteful. Many things – including expensive appliances and gadgets – are deemed disposable. Repairs are no longer common; when something gets broken or slightly non-functional it is quickly thrown away.

And, so, money is all the more important these days. The pursuit of money seems to be the singular motivation of the entire human race. In society, those who have money flaunt their advantage; those who don’t curse their lack.

Among the poor, it is time to start being more visible to prospective benefactors – the people with the resources and the possible intention to give presents. It is time to be more courteous, more subservient to masters, superiors and moneyed neighbors. This is the usual gimmick in order to gain favors.

Even within the business sector, where the giving of bonuses to employees is both traditional and mandatory, many workers still suddenly turn extra nice to their bosses at this time of the year, hoping to receive additional gifts. And, very often, it works. The act would earn an extra hundred pesos, several packs of instant noodles and a slice of queso de bola.

It’s true that having lots of money sometimes brings out the generosity in people. Abundance tends to make people want to give. There’s something about giving that’s hard to explain – it makes the giver feel truly abundant and better off than those he is giving to.

But abundance is a curious thing, too. Material abundance can also bring out the bad in those who are blessed with it. Wealth can make people vain and self-important. It can breed arrogance.

For instance, many people become something else the moment they have money. They become high-handed, even towards their friends. They lose their manners, becoming brash where they used to be polite and gracious.

It’s probably the feeling of power – economic power – that makes rich people throw their manners away. When you are powerful, you feel you are not bound by any rules – you make the rules! And that’s a very ugly attitude to have.

People with money – although not all – feel that they own other people, just because they do them certain favors once in a while. They think that their occasional generosity entitles them to full ownership of other people’s time and servitude, other people’s lives. This explains why many rich people behave they way they do towards the lowly others.

A person is not necessarily more knowledgeable or wiser or better just because he has more money. It may be only money he has more of – not knowledge or wisdom or character. Unless, of course, he works hard on these aspects of himself, too. Or if, in the first place, these were the very factors that brought him his good luck. 

By and large, it doesn’t follow that when a person ‘has’ more he ‘is’ more also. Yet so many moneyed people act like they’re superior to others in everything; and like they know everything, from skinning a cat to securing eternal life. They will even make light of the ideas of the real experts, especially those that don’t exhibit the sheen of their (the experts’) solid backgrounds.    

Of course, rich people are not to be condemned for having so much wealth. In fact, some rich people are truly deserving of their standing in life, remaining humble despite their vast possessions. They are very kind and compassionate towards the less fortunate and, interestingly, they seem to receive more as they give more and more.

“Stewards, not owners,” they’d say, these rich people who have not been corrupted by their wealth. This mindset prompts them to generously share their blessings. They don’t think that whatever they’re in possession of is actually theirs; but that it’s only temporarily put in their trust, to be distributed to others.

The same feeling is shared by the other rich people – those whose wealth is not money but skills, knowledge, or wisdom. They devote time in training the unskilled and teaching the uneducated. Mostly working for free, they find great fulfillment in helping others.

Rich people – in whatever form their riches may be – should be grateful, not boastful of their advantage in life. Ostentatious display of one’s good fortune will only emphasize others’ lack. And that’s being so unkind and inconsiderate.

Haughtiness, including the type that grows from one’s earnest labors, does not take one anywhere. Except perhaps deeper into the pit of his own desolation. In this world, nothing lasts. It is unwise, therefore, to rest one’s self-concept on something that can go away as quickly as it comes.

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