The Benefit Of Poverty

You can discern the true nature of anything under the sun by observing what it permits and what it doesn't. For example, you can judge a social club by the members it solicits. You can perceive the true nature of a country by what it condemns and punishes; you can also discern its soul by what it lets go. Even precious metals accept some elements into themselves and reject others. Hence, when Jesus said it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of God, He reveals the nature of the kingdom as well as the quality that diminishes one’s chances of taking hold of it.

Being rich (having loads of money) is an amazing state of being. Except you are a kid, I don’t need to explain what kind of experiences are at your disposal if you are rich man or woman. Having a lot of money removes a lot of this life’s obstacles and restrictions. In short, you have the power to do and achieve more.

Most people envy the rich, but having excess money has its set of burdens - some of which are considerable and wearisome. In his book, David and Goliath, Malcolm Gladwell highlights one of the unique difficulties of being rich, especially in the area of parenting. Gladwell believes it is easier for the poor to parent a normal and well-adjusted child than the rich. For example, if an 18-year-old son of a poor person asks his parents for a Toyota Prius, it is a bit easier to dissuade the kid from such wild fantasy, especially if the parents are sharing one decrepit car between each other. On the other hand, it is more difficult for a rich parent to say no, particularly if there is a Bentley or two outside the porch.

In terms of parenting, wealth contains a tiny seed of destruction in that it has the potential to lull the rich into settling for a convenient and conflict-free zone at a cost they are willing to pay for. And since future costs are unquantifiable and sometimes non-existent, such get deferred until a later date.

On the other hand, circumstances force the poor to live on the edge of combustible realities. Every incident matters - a tiny decision can plunge them into the abyss of further hardship and it can also bring a tiny stroke of fortune that lasts for a little while. Being poor can sometimes be like playing an RPG game where you have to live on a single round of consumable life compared to those with an excess of five lives or more. As a result, you tend to agonise over every choice at every turn because the consequences are considerable.

Because the poor walk this fine line, every penny is literarily earned. Every advantage that comes their way falls by the application of hard graft and labour. For these reasons, it is easier for the poor to be hyped up about little favours that come with less work. The destitute are more like to be thankful for tiny blessings and see them as chances to cool off - a respite from constant exertion of energy. And when the poor fail and fall into the abyss, their feelings can sometimes be much of resignation bordering on indifference. Because they live on the edge of despair and hardship, they tend to consider little problems as irrelevant.


The rich, on the other hand, have several cushions that nudge them away from the abyss. They possess many sanctuaries that protect them from the sharp jaws of most calamities. The light of their wealth can sometimes shine so brightly that it obscures them from seeing the darkness and myriad of spiritual influences roaming around.

Since humans are sensitive to the material and the rich have many of their materials met, it tends to blocks out any other influences outside of that bubble. This is why it tends to surprise the world (as well as the wealthy themselves) when an exceedingly rich person falls off the edge into the abyss. And compared to the poor, most wealthy people’s level of acceptance and composure in a fallen state is pretty low.

Mortification of the flesh, whether we admit it or not, is fairly easier for the poor than the wealthy. A rich person has easy access to many of the world's baggage in his grasp and can sometimes have difficulty letting go. But the destitute doesn’t have to contend with that kind of problem.

It is worth keeping in mind that because it is easy for the poor to let go doesn't necessarily reflects a great strength of will or spirit, but more like circumstances make it easier for them to sometimes make spiritually good decisions. Or put in another way, circumstances made the decision for them.

All in all, I think there is no profit in having a rich person's mentality. It is better to have a poor man's mentality instead. My definition of a poor man’s mentality is that which recognises that what he or she owns isn't truly their own. Such mind recognises the futility of life and material possessions. It is not content with chasing job success at the expense of peace of mind, family and the well-being of the soul.

Having a poor man's mentality doesn't mean you aren't generous to people, for generosity has little to do with how much or how little you have. Generosity is dependent on empathy and how much attachment you have to what you own.

A person with lots of money can always cultivate a poor man's mentality by developing empathy, appreciation and refusing to derive a sense of worth from their financial status. This is always a good place to start.

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