June 25, 2007

Fiction for a Monday
John Manifold had an instinctive distrust of wealth not because he didn’t like the idea of having lots of money but because he knew how it would play with people who didn’t have money. He’d hadn’t any for years and that had caused him to divide the world into haves and have-nots, and all his sympathy was for the have-nots. To be rich seemed a implicit betrayal of his poor friends.

He wondered, naturally, if he was merely jealous. The poor were often jealous and just because someone wasn’t wealthy didn’t mean they couldn’t be happy for those who were. Manifold accepted this on an intellectual level but the loser and underdog held his affection and he couldn’t help but judge things by the way the underdog would view things. It felt somehow wrong if he should acquire money and they not.

He feared that with wealth he would no longer be able to relate to his poor brethren and thus no longer, in some sense, be able relate to himself. He’d always been poor. But he almost tried to avoid getting rich since his greatest fear is that after becoming so he would become one of those insisting how easy it was and thus annoying those who were still poor. How many times he’d heard that when he was poor! The haves always told the have-nots how easy it was to acquire money.

The rich sometimes flaunted their wealth almost accidentally - not out of hubris but only because they saw their wealth as coming from outside themselves, as something they hadn't earned. But the poor scarcely understood that concept and the rich said that it was because they didn't understand that they remained poor.

So how could one become rich and still appreciate the situation of the poor?

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