Yesterday a report came out showing that the 8 eight richest people in the world have as much wealth as the poorest 50% of the world.
And I, for one, was relieved.
This shocking statistic made me feel the same relief as I did in school when the teacher asked a difficult question (from the homework assignment that I should have completed the night before), then decided to pick on the kid beside me for the answer.
Because I wasn’t called out for my riches, I noticed a couple things happen internally. First, I was given permission to point responsibility for injustice from myself onto guys like Bill, Jeff and Warren. Tsk, tsk, those greedy, greedy men… Why bother helping the poor with my few pennies? If these guys pulled their weight, wouldn’t the world be OK?
Second, because my wealth is approximately 0% (rounded to the nearest tenth of a percent) of these guys, I was also able to feel somewhat justified in my own feelings of entitlement. Instead of feeling responsible, I actually felt poorer, and more justified in my own greed.
But as I thought more about this, I realized that these 8 guys and their wealth don’t matter. Here are some things to consider:
- Even though you don’t feel rich compared to the wealthiest, you’re probably still among to top 10% of richest people in the world. Click here to find out exactly where you rank.
- Even if you have less wealth than everyone around you, you still have something to give. We need what you bring to the table.
- Change happens not when the outliers give what they have to those in need, but when we all choose to be generous with what we have.
I find it interesting that on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, a day when we celebrate the ability of ordinary citizens to change a nation, that news outlets decided to shift our responsibility to only the richest few.
Maybe instead of talking about the richest in the world, we should tell more stories about ordinary acts of generosity, to remind ourselves of what we all can give. We should tell stories about the woman who spends time with her elderly mother in a care home. Or the friend who brings a sick family a hot meal. Or the widow who gives her last two coins to the poor.
Yes, the rich have a responsibility to correct injustice and give to those in need. But you and I, we’re also rich. You have more to give than you may think.