Are You in the 1%? You Should Be

corruption money power wealth

Where do we stand?

Now, to relate this to you and me: where do we stand in all this, and where do we want to stand? Would we rather identify with the disadvantaged 99%, or should we strive to be in that 1% that makes all the decisions and has all the money? Or do we try to change the system altogether? Or are we looking at it all wrong?

After watching this powerful documentary, I found myself wrestling with a lot of uncomfortable truths. I've noticed a lot of tension in this country between demonizing wealth and aspiring to it. The Occupy movement called out the 1% while books like The 4-Hour Workweek made record sales as people dreamed of hiring their own virtual assistants and working remotely from an island beach.

I certainly do it. I tell myself I am worthy of great wealth but catch myself creating excuses to charge less for my services, even after agreeing on a price ("you weren't feeling well, so you didn't get a great workout," "we ended our tutoring session 5 minutes early, so take off a quarter of the price"). Maybe you've experienced a similar kind of tension.

This internal conflict makes it hard to align our efforts, and we might not even notice it exists until we put those two mindsets side by side.

To Fix the System, You Must Master It

I think that our system IS broken, and that we need to work to create a new one that allows all people a comfortable standard of living, with time for leisure as well as self-directed, engaging work. BUT, I think we should still aspire to wealth and influence, rather than demonizing it to live righteously but poorly.

Calling money evil simply because we don't have much is just crying sour grapes. What influence can we have begging desperately for a job, any job, and chasing our bills month after month? Attain mastery, and mold the realm of wealth to your principles.

But I wonder if that's just buying in. There have been people who worked within extreme poverty to change the world.

I don't think so, because I felt that same way about the art of attraction when I started studying that. I demonized those men who could go home with any woman they wanted, simply because I couldn't. It was only after I dove into that world that I discovered how it's not the ability to attract that's problematic, but the way you use it. You can ruin a lot of lives by being a player, but without the ability to seduce, even the most committed marriage can become passionless.

Wealth is the same.

It's Time to Get Back in the Pool

We are living in an age in which negative expressions of wealth are much more common than positive ones. But there are still great philanthropists in the tradition of the Rockefellars and the Carnegies who use wealth to better society. Take Bill Gates and Warren Buffet, two of the wealthiest people alive.

By staining the halls of power, simply by acting badly, the powerful and corrupt have given power itself a bad name. By pissing in the pool, they drove everyone else out. Sure they have to swim in their own rankness, but they get the whole thing to themselves. And now, they don't even have to do that because we've decided never to get our hands dirty.

We've accepted the truth they wanted to spread: Politics and money and power itself are the realm of the corrupt. For those of us who value principles over materials, that's enough to keep us away. We will gladly suffer the burden of poverty if it means we can be "good" people.

Most of the truly admirable people I know just want to mind their own business, like Cincinnatus on his farm. We specifically DON'T want to get our hands dirty--it's too big a job--and the few idealistic kids who go into politics or finance get swallowed by the system. They either buy in or burn out.

But it doesn't have to be that way. In fact, it shouldn't be that way. What if more of us quiet farming types took it as our civic duty to change the way our world is run? What if civic virtue had any weight at all? Do you think the world would be a different place if people of principles actually OUTNUMBERED those who are in it for the personal rewards?

Perhaps I'm spouting crazy ideas, asking for the impossible. But if you are of sound moral character (and if you read this blog then you at least aspire to that) I WANT you to be wealthy, influential, and powerful. I want people like that in the wealthiest, most influential positions in society. I want people like that running the government.

Instead of shying away from power to avoid staining your good name, take courage and run headlong into it, and mark it with your principles and ideals. Power is defined by those who wield it. Let's redefine what it means to be rich and powerful.

So, yes, I say we should aspire to wealth.

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Fight on, Brave Warriors.


Photo credit: Francisco Diez on Flickr