Sometimes I just feel so much tension about how wealthy I am. Yes, although I drive a scrapped up, clanking 1999 Dodge mini van I am still rich. After all, I have TWO cars. I have a 1996 Honda too. Both just shy of 200,000 miles.
I am so rich, in fact, I am pretty much in the top one percent of richest people on the earth. Yep, that one percent, the one everyone is so worked up about.
Don’t believe me? Although you might be a middle class American, you just might also be close to one of the richest people in the earth. Check out where you stand at this link: http://globalrichlist.com/
I don’t feel bad because I am rich. Rather, it is more so our attitude to it, that us “rich people” don’t recognize our wealth and we squander it; that we can be so rich while the majority are so extremely poor.
I read this article recently, which again reminded me (as I am reminded every year when these same studies come out) that, hey, I still live in the wealthiest county in my country. I live in the suburbs of Washington DC, a city that is also the least affordable city in the United States, one of the richest countries in the world. Personally, I live in a lovely little older townhouse we are steadfastly trying to pay-off. But, you can’t be fooled by people living in townhouses. Some townhouses cost over half a million dollars! Actually, some of my friends who might even be reading this live in homes that cost over a million dollars.
Currently, the median home price in DC metro area is a whopping $345,000 (and $460,000 in DC itself). And some houses are just insanely expensive. Being sold for 32 million, the Chateau La Vie (below), is what we affectionately call the “other white house.” We drive by both this private property and the real White House regularly, but I feel one is a little more accessible- even with the sequester going on- than the other.
Here is another, which also resides up the Potomac from me, going for mere 45 million and is based on Paris’ Palace of Versailles:
I will not bore you with more expensive homes, but I wonder if the owners of these homes, which are undoubtedly in the U.S.’s top once percent, even are aware of how rich they are in comparison to the impoverished around the corner, say, in the DC ghetto. Maybe they don’t think they are all that rich. Maybe they don’t understand how much more they can give. After all, if you won a 45 million dollar home (and the ability to maintain it), would you keep it? Would you downgrade? Maybe whomever is selling it now is downgrading so he/she can buy the townhouse next door and be an example to me, giving away their money.
I guess what I am trying to say is, is that although it is typical to judge the rich for being rich, I know people are (rightly) judging me. In fact, 99% of the world could be judging me, wondering why I am not sharing what I have with them out of my oh-so-generous nature.
But they don’t know most of us are grossly unaware of our wealth. Personally, I am trying to dance that fine line, surviving in this area while being a generous person in response to this awareness.
Trust me, I am not trying to go all socialist on you. Please watch the 3 minute video below to help you understand how drastically the gap between the rich and the poor truly is:
I don’t know how you should respond- it’s not like I’m telling you to sell everything (although in some context or another, Jesus, the guy I follow, actually said to do just that- to sell everything and give it to the poor).
What I am saying though is, that this is the TRUTH. These statistics are speaking reality. We are all freaking rich. In response, let’s share the tension we might have with this together. Then, through this context, we can challenge each other to live more generous lives.
So this is my question:
Are you willing to face the truth with me?
Ideas for Action:
Comment on this post with your reaction to knowing how wealthy you or our country is.
Consider your own finances. Is this you? What Had I Done With All My Money?
Give generously to someone/something asking for something today, even if you are just starting with $5. Or if you feel more challenged, take on the Generosity Experiment.
Learn more from some organizations who know more about this topic- poverty in relationship to our wealth. These two links will help you learn more about the reality of extreme inequality in our world:
It is easy forget how rich we are when we compare ourselves to our neighbors, or HGTV, or when the news is saying how badly things are going. And it is hard to take a look at yourself, your own spending, and think about what else we could be doing with that money. Thank you for opening our eyes!
I regularly battle the tension between “but everyone around me has more” and “I can’t beleive I am so rich when so many people don’t even have the basics. Education is important. This is such a pertinent post. Thanks for sharing.