OpEd, Politics

Why enough feels like it is nothing to most people

I really don’t know how you define enough or how you differentiate between feeling poor versus being poor.  When you make $500 a month but the person next to you is earning $1,000 more, then you will feel poor, irrespective of the fact that you’re still making a lot of money.

In this situation, it doesn’t matter that you are not poor in any absolute sense. No one with a sound mind would say that a person making $500 a month is poor. But if you’re making that and doing so next to someone making 500+ that amount, then you will feel poor. In other words, the difference between being and feeling is all about environmental context.

But you don’t know that there is someone who has never seen the figure of what you make and they are just grateful for what they have.

You will even go as far as to question why you are not progressing in life because someone is a bit ahead of you while forgetting the fact there are millions of people who go to bed with nothing in their stomachs.

You cannot even appreciate the fact that you have food to eat, where to sleep and a job to pay your bills, you are ungrateful, yes, you need some prayers. What If you make 1000 more, will you still be grateful for all that you have?  I think not because you have never figured out what enough means.

This takes me to the story of a man whose story changed my thought about enough by Yew Lawrence. It was about Adolf Merckle, a German billionaire who was among the 100 richest people in the world. He had an estimated fortune of $9.2 billion, and his businesses employed over 100,000 people.

Despite a track record of proven successes, Merckle made a series of disastrous bets during the 2008 financial crisis, resulting in losses that amounted to over $500 million. As the future of his business empire lay in question, he decided that being alive to witness its reversal wasn’t worth the mental cost.

On a cold Monday evening, he wrote a final note for his family, and took his own life in the most dramatic of ways: By standing in front of an oncoming train.

Sometimes when you hear a story like this, you just wonder and wow, he has lost money but he was still extremely rich. What else does he need?

The man, Merckle can lose half of his money and still maintain his position as one of the world’s richest people on earth and there is nothing wrong with losing money amounting to $500 million when your bank account still says that you have billions.  The world is not always black and white, as you will always think.

This is what Yew Lawrence had to say about his story and I quote: “When I think back on this time, I recall it with fondness. Even though we were under financial stress, my parents and my neighborhood never made it feel like we were. I had everything I needed and wanted. I had all the resources I required to do well at school too, so I never felt underprivileged there either.

This highlights the distinction between being poor and feeling poor. One is a factual claim that could be made using a number and its relationship to the poverty line. The other is something that can’t be quantified in any rational way and is entirely dependent on one’s state of mind and its connection with others.

One interesting phenomenon that’s been occurring in some parts of the world is that poverty has been decreasing while incomes amongst the wealthiest have been increasing. At first glance, this may seem like a win-win. If more people are escaping poverty and the wealthy are earning more, doesn’t that seem like a non-zero-sum game?”

And of course, that is how most people would think that enough is nothing when someone has enough more than you. It is like a chase after the wind because the truth is; you will never get there. There is a need to appreciate what you have before it is no more.



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