One night, as I drove out of the wealthiest part of Milwaukee and into my neighborhood, I sighed in discontentment. I thought to myself, “And this is where the rest of us live…Wait, the rest of ‘us?’”
It suddenly occurred to me that I had set up a dichotomy in my mind, pitting the wealthy against myself. This was not compatible with my spiritual beliefs. My husband and I were working hard to better ourselves, and I had wealthy friends who had been very good to me. I did not make rude, victim-heavy comments like that to them. My private thoughts were uncharitable, and I suddenly realized I had a problem with envy.
It wasn’t just me. Envy saturates our political scene. How many times have I heard someone gripe about “the millionaires and billionaires,” or the 1%? Countless. This is usually the first point people make before they present socialism, which is government-forced redistribution of wealth and control of production. The rhetoric must be why Winston Churchill said, “Socialism is…the gospel of envy.” Have you ever heard anyone present socialism without vilifying the wealthy?
What is the cure to envy?
Gratitude. And this is the perfect season to acknowledge gratitude and the role it plays in our souls. Much has been written about the impacts of gratitude on our health, but the perk I am writing about here is gratitude as a cure for toxicity in our political scene. To do this, let’s contrast two lists.
The first is a list of what I can be grateful for today.
- My Mind
My mind is a source of wealth. I can come up with an idea and capitalize on it.
Slavery is illegal in America. I am free. (Note: If you are in America and you don’t have freedom, you have legal protection. Call the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-373-7888.)
I have access to the internet, and I can instantly access more information than anyone 70 short years ago.
I have a reliable vehicle. Cities one hour’s drive away seem far to me, but the same journey would have taken days in the past.
I can walk into a gas station and get more food than kings of old. I can buy cheap bananas, in rural grocery stores, in the Rocky Mountains, in the dead of winter.
I have electricity, running water, heat, and a refrigerator to make sure my food stays fresh. I am surrounded by luxury items I don’t need to live, such as a TV.
- Medical Care
In the 1700s, life expectancy was just 36 years of age. At 31 in America, I’m still considered young.
Now let’s contrast the second list. This one is a list of all the problems someone else’s wealth has caused me:
None. Even if someone was handed all of his or her wealth on a silver platter as an infant, it has no negative impact on my life. Chances are, though, that the individual became wealthy by producing a product I love and use often, like Amazon Prime or my iPhone! Rooting out envy gave me another perk. I am now able to be happy for someone else’s success!
As I sit with my loving family and friends this Thanksgiving at a table packed with delicious food, I will remember the two self-empowering gifts gratitude has given me. First, I am thankful for the wealthy, and the success they bring to the world and my life. Second, my view of myself has shifted. I am wealthy.