I used to think so. Personally, I do not crave a lot of conspicuous consumption. My pickup goes just as many places as a Silver Phantom Rolls Royce would, and my bird dogs won’t fit in a Lamborghini. I want for nothing extraordinary, having a comfortable home and everything that goes with that. My profession, being a college professor, is fabulous—perfect for me in every way. All in all, I am a lucky man.
Nonetheless, I find myself unable to do some things, at least for now, that I would like to do. Travel, getting my kids into the best college I can, and maybe purchasing some art seem like good things to want. I also dream of some philanthropy—more than my current income will allow.
In other words, I could always use more money for some noble purpose. How about you? Have you been convinced over the years that always wanting more is bad or that rich people are greedy? Examine that thought thoroughly. Money is not good or bad, any more than electricity is good or bad. An electric current can save a life or take it. Money can buy medicine or crack cocaine. The more you make, the more potential you have to do both good and bad. The choice is yours.
Most of the people who were influential in my life as a child were hopelessly bound up by two conflicting notions. On the one hand, they knew they needed money to live and that more money generally meant better living conditions for them and their families. On the other, they heard every Sunday about it being harder for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for the rich to enter heaven, which they apparently took to mean that poverty is a virtue. The result was paralysis on the subject of wealth.
I have come to the conclusion that, like health, there is no such thing as too much wealth. As I shift my mindset toward that way of thinking, I realize that our culture’s ambivalence toward money is counter-productive. Making money is good as long as it supports and sustains our other values. And what we don’t spend on ourselves, we can spend on others.
So how much is enough? Answer: There is never enough. Setting our minds to grow in our capacity to create wealth for ourselves and others is constructive and healthy. And don’t worry about your being corrupted by filthy lucre. I find that most people have precisely the amount of wealth that they have the wisdom to keep. They may temporarily get more, but soon they revert to bad habits and counter-productive thinking. Likewise, if you grow in wisdom, you will soon find that your wealth grows to match your character.
Terry spends most of his time thinking about stuff. He hopes some of his thoughts make sense to you and help you in some way. If they don’t, he hopes it’s not his fault.