Rich of all Countries, unite!
I just want to exchange some ideas with my friends the Rich. I would like to say I am doing this out of a sense of fellowship, but that is not entirely true.
I am not a Rich, alas. I am a "normal" chap with a great deal of hankering: above all I would like to be loved and admired for my bright ideas and nice personality, even though deep down I know to be less than nice and commendable. Yes, I am not a Rich, I fiercely yearn for friends (mainly ladies) who adore me, while I can scarcely love or even tolerate anybody out of a very selected group of likeminded persons - which means persons so amiable to concede that I am pretty right in my opinions. No, I am not placid and unruffled enough to consider myself a Rich. But listen to my following proposition:
Most people are neither perfectly Rich, nor totally Poor.
This is a great idea, you must admit. It is packed with consequences. It means that, having inside some degree of Richness and of Poorness, everybody can, in theory, strive to move the inner border between the two contradictory stances and hence try to acquire that legendary inner elation for which the true Rich are conspicuous. This part of the reasoning on "improving oneself" is old hat, of course, but the corollary I want to press home is, that I can consider myself a bit, just a bit partaking in your lot.
I feel a bit like to be a junior colleague of you (though not fully worth), dear friends the Rich, and so I feel entitled to speak out.
This is quite an ambitious claim, to say the least. Yet I will show you that things are very simple: first of all, I am not going to give out any harangue. I just hold to be one of those sociable chaps who standing on a soapbox in one corner of Hyde Park address their gratuitous oration to passers-by: in fact I am writing now in Mr. Simonelli-Porcupine's virtual Web Park Speaker Corner where, as in London Hyde Park, anybody is allowed to utter anything. After I recently recounted on this web site a story about a sea captain, I got some encouraging sympathetic e-mail and this heartens me to write these further lines, lest the world should be deprived of my wisdom's contribution.
Still, you are not in danger to fall prey of a gushing lecturer. I won't teach you anything. A lecturer is one with his boring voice in your ears and his faith in your patience. A teacher is a person who tells his audience how to solve the problems which he himself has tried to avoid becoming a teacher. He who can does. He who cannot, teaches. No, I am not going to lecture. When I announced that I feel entitled to speak my mind, I just was meaning that, being congenially close to your Rich club, I deem I can exchange some ideas with you: but no exhortation, no homily. Only some questions, in case some of you want to reply on this Web Park Corner.
The first question probably should be: Who we are. What we are about. Any comprehensive answer? Hmm. I'm waiting for your e-mail.
By the time of his death in 1903, Adrien Proust, Marcel's father, declared: "I have been happy all my life". This is surely the hallmark of the true Rich, and his example might come in handy to illustrate the definition we are seeking, but for one and only snag: not many among us can hope to reach the moral and professional excellence of Dr. Proust, the unselfish giant who successfully fought cholera and bubonic plague on ships steered to French harbours from infected regions far away, receiving from the mayor of once cholera-prone Toulon the keys of the town, giving his name to the hospital for quarantined victims in Marseilles and becoming Chevalier de la Legion d'Honneur as well as professor of hygiene at the Medical Faculty in Paris.
Though certainly excellence in anything we do, and aloofness about hoarding, are qualifying traits of the Rich, I suspect that few among us will ever be presented with the key of any exclusive top-manager's lavatory, let alone the keys of a town, so I am afraid we need some more modest guidance than dr. Proust's.
Most of us will never do great things, but we the Rich can do small things in a great way.
Perhaps we might define ourselves the Rich in a negative way, stating Who We Are Not? We are not Poor. Look at that much-publicized sentence: A camel can pass easier through a needles-eye, than a wealthy man through the door of Heaven. This, translated into OUR jargon, would sound: A Poor (a greedy person, a person who has made wealth the purpose of his/her life) has less chances to attain heavenly peace inside himself (or herself) than a camel to pass through etc. etc. Which seems to confirm our point of view about the quality of inner peace, the intangible peculiar richness of the Rich.
By the way this sentence shows that our perception about the difference between Rich and Poor is not something we are discovering now. It is at least 2,000 years old. Much older, indeed.
(3.To be continued)