12 August 2010

Are you wealthy?

Are you wealthy?

Interesting concept, wealth. Is there an objective scale or marker to say what wealth is, or is not?

Ancient kingdoms had great wealth in gold or other commodities, but they may not have had flushing toilets. Most people reading this right now take flushing toilets for granted, but would not answer the above question in the affirmative.

Are you wealthy?

Compared to whom?

Need a comparison be made?

Are you wealthy?

I have discussed this in dusty rural schools and villages in southern Africa. The students or subsistence farmers would say their non-motorised and unelectrified lifestyle did not reflect wealth. Wealth was the realm of stuff, cities, TVs upon which you could watch sport.

I have discussed wealth with women in comfortable rooms with soft carpet. Wealth was perceived to be luxury cruises and every whim satisfied.

I have seen poverty in the eyes of the terminally ill, for whom wealth would have been the energy to laugh. I have seen fear in the eyes of a woman who had to choose which of her children ate the last of the porridge.

Are you wealthy? Upon what basis, what scale do you answer that question? You have more than most and not as much as some.

My closet seems floorless with shoes piled upon one another. I am wealthy. I can choose to wear shoes, and even which shoes to wear.

My pantry has packets of sauces and containers of pasta. It has tins of fruit and of beans. My fridge has an extra tub of butter for the when the old one runs out and the freezer has just enough room for ice cream.

So why, when someone asks me if I am wealthy, is my conditioned response one of denial?

Is it because my vocation has an implied simplicity of lifestyle? Is it because I glory in secondhand furniture, finds that no one else can copy? Is it a false humility or a dissatisfaction with life and my acquisitions thus far?

No guilt intended as I write, nay wrestle with wealth and its baggage. Just a question as to how we would grip its content so tightly yet seem to hold the label at arm's length.

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