If you’re reading this first line, you’re either diametrically opposed to the title of this article, or very curious how I plan to justify the statement. Frankly, this is such a polarizing statement because of its counter-culture nature. Let me lay my cards on the table here by saying that up until recently I would have despised the statement “not wanting to be rich is selfish”. Let me tell you why that’s changed.
Let’s rephrase the statement as a question. Why is not wanting to be rich selfish? Better yet, let’s reverse engineer the question by examining the opposing view – Why is wanting to be rich selfish? Societies perception of the rich (in my opinion) is that they look down upon the rest of us, are self-obsessed and concerned only for their own well-being, and are generally greedy and less altruistic as a result of their wealth. Is this true for some? Sure. Is it true for all or even most? Maybe, maybe not, who are we to say? However, greed, selfishness, elitism, etc. are not the result of being rich – rather they are the result of a rich person losing touch with their value system and their moral & social responsibilities.
Money can be used for personal agendas, and I’m not arguing that it often is. But what about the argument that says money can change lives in a huge way? Ever heard the phrase money is the root of all evil? Well that’s wrong. The love of money is the root of all evil. Remember, money is not a verb. Therefore, being rich in itself actually doesn’t mean anything. It’s how we as individuals save, spend, give, and invest our money that gives wealth a definition.
The definition of selfish is lacking consideration for others; concerned chiefly with one’s own personal profit or pleasure. It takes money to start and grow a business, feed the poor, give to our schools and churches, and provide for our families. In many ways, choosing to live and earn within your means financially could be considered more selfish than aspiring to great riches. There is a verse in the Bible that reads – a wise person leaves an inheritance for their children’s children. Regardless of race, status, or creed – there is wisdom in that statement.
Many people will read this and hear me saying that aspiring to raise a family and live a comfortable life is more selfish that aiming to become rich. That’s not what I’m saying, but it’s also not what I’m not saying. Say that sentence 10 times fast.
So, what do I believe?
I believe that the world is full of selfish and selfless people, rich and poor alike. I believe that living a life of purpose is possible with or without the aspiration of wealth. However, I also believe that money opens doors to change and innovation that otherwise don’t exist. Ultimately, it’s hard to deny that having wealth can empower us to give more, live more, and create more than having a lack of wealth. I believe that choosing comfortable over challenging is a disservice to yourself and your community, and that making a conscious decision not to hold yourself accountable to your potential is the most selfish thing you can do.
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