The Role of Wealth in Our World Essay
Poverty is something we all love to talk about when it comes to other people. Unfortunately, when it comes to ourselves it’s a different story. Sooner or later we find out where we stand in the social ladder in life. We find out if we have less than we thought we had or vice versa. I remember the first time I truly learned to appreciate the things that I had. Back in 8th grade I had a friend named Daniel and he lived in a mansion. After a few months of hanging out with him, I started to feel jealousy over the amount of wealth his family had.
It made me so angry that Daniel lived in a mansion and I was just a regular middle class kid. What I ended up finding out though is that Daniel’s relationship with his family was pretty dry. Although his family was very rich, they had a poor communication with each other. For example, I never once in the two years I went over there had seen the family eating together. This started to open my eyes to the idea that maybe my life is far more blessed than Daniel’s on account of the fact that my family is rich with culture and love.
Like Abraham Lincoln once said “Character is like a tree and reputation like its shadow. The shadow is what you think of it; the tree is the real thing” (“Character”). This made me realize that all that time I thought that Daniel had so much more than me, in reality his life was poor in a place that mine was rich. It had me thinking about my blessings. When money, the thing that people claim to love the most, is introduced into a family, it can make things more complicated and even affect their character. In life poverty makes people tend to do desperate things in desperate situations.
In “Black Hair,” Gary Soto discusses a very desperate time in his life as a seventeen-year-old runaway living on the streets. He had a job in the Valley Tire Company moving around tires. But that did not seem to help his situation because he was working like an animal for such miniscule pay. As times started to get tough, Soto found himself doing things that most people would not even think of doing. “I searched out a place to sleep and found an unlocked car that seemed safe” (Soto 371). It’s not that Soto was a criminal it’s that poverty has that effect on humans.
We are all built to do whatever is necessary to survive. We also tend to find ourselves doing things we would find gross or disgusting. “Before leaving I took a bottle that hung on the side of the coke machine, filled it with water, and stopped it with a scrap of paper and a rubber band” (Soto 369). This shows how when you are starving or thirsty you will go to new fronts to satisfy your body’s basic cravings. Living in that type of poverty is something that many Americans hopefully won’t have to experience, but it is a reality and should be recognized. Although living in poverty is tough, it tends to make people tough.
Once someone has been raised a certain way, no amount of wealth will ever be able to change that person’s mindset. For example, if somebody was raised filthy rich and spoiled, they will remain that way even if they lost everything. A friend of mine during high school named Daniel was probably the richest kid in Rochester and had one of the worst attitudes towards work I have ever seen. The emotional factor would be the worst part because a very wealthy person is probably used to other people looking up at them and a sudden change of fortune would change that pretty quickly.
You would also find out who you’re real friends were the whole time. I am not trying to be stereotypical but most people who are born rich don’t have that persistency to work hard every day. In other words, they are probably used to getting around the easy way and not having to actually get up early in the morning and work a backbreaking job. This mental mindset can be the difference between life and death in such a transition. This inability to change a mindset may not only apply to rich people. In the documentary Reversal of Fortune the main character “Ted” proves that point.
Ted was a homeless man for over 20 years, and when he struck gold one day, he was given the ultimate test. He discovered a suit case filled with $100,000 and was given a second chance in life. However, due to how he was raised and the type of people he grew up around, like his mother who he called a “bar whore”, this created a very bad influence which lingered into his adult life. Along with this wealth he found that his family was willing to bring him into their lives once more. For once in over 20 years Ted had everything he wanted and he destroyed it pretty quickly.
Ted was very hesitant to get a job or something to fall back on. He is constantly warned week after week by his family to get a job or invest it wisely into a rental property. This idea was foreign to Ted due to his mentality and work ethic. When Ted was homeless, he would only look forward to the end of the day. Weeks went by and Ted did not abandon this foolish mentality which ended up costing him all of his money and the respect of his family. Even though Ted was basically given a second chance in life, he messed it up due to his background of short term goals and bad work ethic.
Human nature is a powerful drug that is deep within us all and is waiting for a perfect opportunity to expose itself. Wealth is known to do many things to a man. Some say it changes people, but I disagree. Wealth actually tends to bring out people’s true colors. In the short essay “My Wood” by E. M. Forster, he portrays himself obtaining a large amount of wealth from his Great Aunt. Forster obtained a piece of land by a public footpath. Forster found himself developing this rapid sense of greed. Whenever the less fortunate kids would walk by his property and pick some blueberries, he would become very angry about this.
Forster was becoming detached from the rest of society around him. Although he may have set up a secure financial situation, he was not able to set up a secure psychological situation. He was never able to enjoy his wealth. This resulted in his desire to make foolish and pointless changes in his landscape which brought him no happiness. As Forster stated at one point “Sometimes I think I will cut down such trees as remain in the wood, at other times I want to fill up the gaps between them with new trees. Both impulses are pretentious and empty.
They are not honest movements towards money-making or beauty. They spring from a foolish desire to express myself and from an inability to enjoy what I have got” (379). Forster said that this vast amount of wealth changes his person but maybe it just brought out his true inner character. Even though Forster had fell victim to greed, he is not the only one to blame for this scenario. But it doesn’t always go that way for most people. In the essay “Good Soldiers” by Sally Tisdale many men and women gave up a lot of what they had to help out the less fortunate.
Tisdale met a lot of people who inspired her and learned things she never knew before. The people who dedicated their life to the Salvation Army received a house, and a car, and good health care. Although the “allowance” was very little, they had everything they needed to survive and stay happy by helping other people. We are all different by the way we choose to live our lives; some people get satisfaction by getting the most for their own gain while a select few actually get a rush of satisfaction by helping those out with less. Even though we like to think we are all saints, we are not.
We all have some form of evil or greed buried deep within us, some deeper than others. It is nothing to be ashamed of because we cannot control it. It is simply the way human nature was structured, and unfortunately we all have it within us. When we tend to think of people in poverty, we look at the physical aspect of what they don’t have instead of how they are treated like second class citizens. For example, we worry about poor people not having the proper nutrition or hygiene that they so desperately need, but what about the legal aspect?
In today’s world, people who are poor or homeless tend to be very separated in terms of where they live and their legal status. As sad as it is to admit, people with less money tend to be treated more unfairly than people who are in the upper class. In “Address to the Prisoners in the Cook County Jail,” Darrow talks about how rich people get more rights because of how rich they are. “If you were rich and were beaten, your case would be taken to the appellate Court. “A poor man cannot take his case to the Appellate Court; he has not the price” (395).
Due to this lack of justice people will do whatever is necessary to survive because they have nothing to lose. Unfortunately we live in a world where money can pretty much buy anything, and that usually means more rights. Poverty can lead people to do things that others would think twice about. Although being rich is considered to be a great deal by many, can it make you soft? This does not only apply to rich people though. In the book “On Dumpster Diving” by Lars Eightner, he found out how hard being poor can really be. There was a point in his life where he had a job and a home.
But as the economy started to slouch, he ended up losing his job. As time rolled by, he eventually ate through all of his savings and had to put all of his income into paying rent. The rest of his daily necessities he had to extract from dumpsters. At first the idea was very foreign to him and very humiliating. He would often do it during the night to try and save himself the embarrassment. But as time passed by he cared less of what people thought about him. Eventually Eightner began to master Dumpster diving as if it were a trade. He learned very quickly how to identify what was safe to eat and what wasn’t.
Not only did Eightner gather his food from dumpsters, he even gathered stuff like candles, books, toilet paper, etc. At one point in the book he even talked about how he found it very annoying when people would ask him what was safe to eat and what wasn’t. “”From time to time one of my companions, aware of the source of my provisions, will ask, “Do you think these crackers are really safe to eat? ” For some reason it is most often the crackers they ask about. This question makes me angry”” (Eightner 412). Eightner started to learn how tough the world can really be.
Doing tough things started to make him tough. There’s one thing for sure though, digging into dumpsters definitely made Eightner more thankful of what he had once he got fully back on his feet again financially. Although poverty is a horrible thing and should never engulf anyone’s life, it does not mean that it is the end of the world. Being poor does not make someone a lower human being than the rest of society, it can actually make people stronger in many ways. Immanuel Kant once said “We are not rich by what we possess but by what we can do without” (“Quotes”).
And even though we usually envy the people who are rich and famous, they are really no better than anybody else. Those people usually are the ones who tend to have very deep issues on the inside that seems to never go away. Also, why is it that our society is even afraid or cautious of poor people? Last time I checked, a poor person does not overtax the public and declare wars based off of special interest. Let it be known that a man should not be judged by his financial status but more by his morals and what he has done. But does being rich really mean that you have more than the poor?
Like Mother Teresa once said “Being unwanted, unloved, uncared for, forgotten by everybody, I think that is a much greater hunger, a much greater poverty than the person who has nothing to eat” (“Quotes”). Whether you believe in fate or not, everything happens for a reason and we have to learn to accept that. Most of the people who are rich had to work hard to get where they are, whereas most of the people who are poor had made poor decisions in the past which had landed them in such a situation. Poverty allows us to appreciate the true blessings in life and always remain true to ourselves.