I like to think of myself as a peacekeeper, a pacifist. I like to put out the hot fires of contention wherever, and whenever I can. I have a hair trigger temper, but I like to believe that in my 57 years of life I've come a long way towards cooling my emotions and using my head instead. Having said that, today there is a fire burning hot in my heart.
Starting my day I happened to pick up a Time Magazine. It was opened to an article that said, "My 3% Problem." The first line reads "Income Inequality is so unfair. How can I fight it without giving up my money?"
I recognize that his article is satirical...a not so gentle poke at the 3% and 1% richest of our population, Many of those wealthy HAVE worked diligently, sometimes obsessively, to reach that pinnacle of wealth. There are individuals who have inherited a huge quantity of money, and work tirelessly to redistribute it amongst the population on this planet.
What about the 97% of people who face life in the hopelessness of poverty, or the work hard to support your family kind of living. Do you consider that many of those 97% have CHOSEN to work in jobs that do not pay much money. These people have worked just as hard as those 3% and 1% but they have consciously chosen positions that will NEVER earn them wealth.
How about the people like my youngest daughter (Who is one of the Shero's in my life!) who chose to go to school for 5 years to become a school teacher. Yes...she knew beginning her education how little she was going to earn but she wanted to make a difference on this planet! I won't reveal the abysmmally low amount that she is paid for the more than 50 hours of work she puts in every single week. Here is a hint, I made almost as much money as she does in 1993 as an Administrative Assistant...without a college degree. I also had no student loans to repay.
I respect people who have worked hard and "Paid their dues," and now find themselves with the "frightening" prospect of being richer than 97% of the population.
I once made the mistake of listening a moment too long to a talk show. I have purposely forgotten who the speaker was. Her topic? "Don't help your family or friends financially. It makes them needy."
If the program had been interactive like Willy Wonka, I would have reached in and delivered one single face slap. Then I would have said, "Did it ever occur to you that maybe God by whatever name you call Him, may have let you become fabulously wealthy to HELP those family members struggling and having a hard time. Maybe not by giving a hand out...but a hand up. It may seem a small thing, but it's actually the best way to make this planet a better place.
Oh sure, I know that there are those folks that take advantage of the wealthy. I know that there will always be hands out wanting to share your wealth with none of the work. So what better way to "equalize" the planets population than starting small. The idea of "Start up" funds is quite brilliant. There are ever so many ways to hand-up instead of hand-out.
I watch the television program "The Shark's" once in awhile. For those who haven't watched it, (and probably were doing something more productive with their time than sitting on their fanny's watching television like me) I can tell in about a nanosecond if the Shark's (a gathered group of those 1% folks) are going to invest in the dream, the pitch of the person who is there. They hear every single kind of a thing that people are creating and dreaming about. One of the most successful was a a "gapper" that you put in your car to fill in the evil "Black Hole" that exists in the front seat of all cars/ Such a simple idea, but quite brilliant. Another was a sock that came up out of the top of a woman's fashion boot with lace and ruffles. Believe it or not that particular product was wildly successful. There is a fashion style that I will NOT be investing in. Too reminscent of the ruffly ankle socks that I wore as a child. Those ruffles kind of give adorable children cankles,
As for how to make a difference in the status quo of the entire world's population, that's easy. Reach out to those who ARE struggling. Maybe do a Celine Dion, and distribute the money you earn regularly to the rest of your family so THEY aren't struggling so hard. Help a fledgling student going into teaching with educational costs. I could list many, many ways...that will be another post on my blog...I feel it coming!
My Uncle inherited the family sheep ranch. That included 9,000 acres of rocks, dirt, sage brush and several hundred head of sheep. He also inherited a bunch of debt. He had three sisters. They were each given a set amount of money for their inheritance. Many years of hard work, and sheep ranching later oil was found on the ranch. My Uncle didn't even have to think about what to do with the money. He divided it between himself and his sisters. He paid for the college loans of a kid who had miserable parents. He probably was in the 10% of the planet that are comfortable but not fabulously wealthy. He probably could have been closer to that fabulous number if he DIDN'T always share the ranches rewards with his sisters. He didn't have too. Nobody would have judged him harshly if he hadn't. He didn't even consider any other course of action.
My amazing, brilliant, beautiful older daughter was accepted to Cambridge last year. She received her Master's in History from that amazing place. She NEEDS her Doctorate so that she can fulfill her dream of becoming a College Professor. She couldn't get one single scholarship. Not one party or person stepped up and said, "Sure, I'll help you reach your dream. For those of you who think that it's "Anti-American" to earn a foreign education, it takes THREE years to get her Doctorate in the U.K. The same diploma in the U.S. is SEVEN years! Really, truly, she could go to Med School and make a heckofalot more money than being a professor at a university!
My daughter (she is another one of my Shero's) volunteers three times a year with the Model United Nations Program. This year she will work with the programs in DC, NYC, and Portland, OR. She works with students from all around the globe. She teaches them diplomacy, how to negotiate when there are barriers of cultural differences, and the differences of personality, and she also teaches them about global welfare. They divide into groups and are assigned a country to represent. This program helps young people understand world issues, goal setting, and negotiation. When questioned once, "Sweetie do YOU wish to become a diplomat?" Her response was instantaneous, "No, I want to teach young students the skills that THEY NEED to become diplomats."
Don't worry Mr. Stein I don't hold it against you that you're STINKING, INCREDIBLY RICH! As a matter of fact I respect and admire the chutzpah that you must have to achieve that remarkable goal. Just remember that with riches comes opportunity. You have the rare and wonderful gift of changing lives. Please don't take that gift lightly!