Like everybody else, I occasionally entertain the fantasy of being rich so that I could buy and do the things I really want. Nevertheless, the more I think about joining the top 1% elite, the more aware I am of the unnecessary burden. Being rich is not much fun because I would get tired of buying too many things. After that, I would have to maintain the many things I owned, and would also worry about losing them. Being rich means living in a bubble where I would suffer disconnection with the simple pleasures of ordinary life that the great majority of people enjoy. Finally, I would still be wondering if money could buy true happiness, love, friendship, dignity and self-worth.
I believe in the Chinese saying that small riches come from hard work and big riches come from heaven. There is something sacred about honest labor, no matter what kind. Honest work is always being rewarded in different ways, not necessarily in money terms.
Why do big riches come from heaven? The reason is that big riches require a confluence of auspicious events that no single person has the power to control. That means you happen to be at the right place at the right time, something we call luck. You may think that you are smart or have visions, but you also know many things are beyond your control. In reality, only a few lucky smarts or visionaries become rich. On the other hand, many rich people are not necessarily smart or visionaries.
If I were a rich businessman, I would always remind myself that the customers made me rich, because they kept on demanding more of my company’s products or services despite the fierce competition out there. When my customers fared worse such as in a recession, my business would hurt as well. The workers who might number in the thousands in my company also made me rich, because they accepted a fixed salary rather than demanding a split of my great profits. Should I do anything unfair or unjust to my customers or workers, it would eventually boomerang to hurt my business. I knew I depended on them as much as they depended on their regular paychecks. In treating my customers and workers, I would never let my ego stand in the way. Ego can never enhance a business. It can only lead to self-destruction.
In human societies, the rich tend to get richer and the poor poorer. This is how every system works wherever you live. The rich are buoyed by the so-called auspicious circles while the poor are weighed down by the vicious circles. This destabilizing tendency becomes even worse if the system allows corruption to spread. To illustrate, a big company can easily crush the small competitors; secure a low-interest loan; grab a bigger slice of the market; hire the best talents; bombard consumers with all kinds of false advertising; and bribe government officials to make laws favorable to them. A small business can only dream of those advantages. It has to work much harder in order to survive and grow. A rich person makes money from investment. After that, more money will flow in a stream chasing the rich person. On the other hand, the average person makes money from labor and sweat. There is a physical constraint as to how much can be earned. So the average person winds up chasing money all the time.
If I were rich, I should never think of the poor as lazy, stupid or dependent on others. Nobody wants to be in that kind of a dependency. The poor just happen to be caught up in the society’s vicious circles through no fault of their own. I could have easily ended up being one of them had luck not intervened. So I would never allow myself to live in a fortress mentality where I thought that the poor would like to steal my riches. If the poor had the opportunity to break the vicious circles, they would have the money to buy my company’s products and services, thereby enriching me even further. So, for my self-interest, I would contribute money to create better opportunities for the poor to make a better life. If the poor continued to spiral down in the vicious circles, I would be the first one to worry because the angry poor, who had nothing to lose, would destroy the entire system in a rebellion or revolution as occurred many times before in history.
Through the years, I’ve come to see that there is a spiritual world existing in parallel with the material world. In the spiritual world, money has no play and does not count. It’s all about peace of mind; good health; true love; good friends; caring, giving and sharing; and receiving more in return than what I’ve given. In the spiritual world, I can never stop counting my blessings. In the material world, I always worry about what to buy, how to maintain, and how much I may lose. I know which world I like better. How about you?