America's definition of wealth is warped. And the definition of wealth we teach our kids is skewed as well. (After all, I should know. I think the way I have been taught to think about ideas such as "worth", "value", "assets" and so on are exceptionally demented being that the monetary association is always my first and foremost barometer for these definitions -- when I know in my heart that family, health, service to others and so on are much more meaningful to me once I slow down and count up all my chickens.)
Let's be honest, in the United States, people use money like a scorecard. We publish the salaries of movie stars, big-name athletes and CEO's. The higher one ranks, the "better" a person is. And come on, isn't salary -- or lack thereof -- one of the prime reasons so many people treat educators in a condescending manner? I tell ya this, a lot fewer people would hit me up with the ol' ,"Oh you're a teacher? I really admire the work you do. It must be so challenging yet rewarding," pity-talk I often get at holiday parties if I was banking an 8 figure salary.
Instead, they'd be schmoozing me up for hot tips like, "Yo, let's say I was at Bloom Taxonomy level 3 preparing for a unit quiz. Got any sweet "ins" on how I could get all the way to level six without sacrificing classroom management in the process of trying to hyper-engage all the different learning styles in my classroom?"
That'll be the day, right?
Additionally, to the uber-rich, it often feels like -- at least to an outsider looking in -- that no matter how much money they have, it's never enough.
What are they still seeking, I've often asked myself. I mean, how big of a steak can one person eat?
Interestingly, I came across this comment from Eli Broad
, a man on the Forbes List of billionaires, about what the latest financial turmoil means to the people of our country. Broad says...
It's not any longer simply about how much money you have, what your assets are worth. The happiest people I've found are in science. These people have three times the IQ -- maybe I'm exaggerating. They have a higher IQ than I do. They love what they're doing, they have a good family life, they're satisfied. People are going to take a look at how we define wealth, and not just in financial terms. They'll ask, what am I accomplishing? What am I going to leave behind? What am I doing with my kids? How am I going to help my community? I've not led a balanced life. If I had it to do over again, maybe I might lead a more balanced life.
Haven't we all been indoctrinated to believe that by reading the Forbes List of billionaires we are also reading a list of those who are the most happy and satisfied in life? Haven't we all been served a glass of kool-aid that gets us to believe that the more we possess, the more we are fulfilled?
Are we now at the dawn of re-evaluating wealth? Does 2010 ring in a year when fulfillment is part of the equation in determining one's "assets"?
Will the ghost of my "level of income equates to my level of value in this world" ever stop haunting me?
Cause that's the tainted Kool-Aid I done drunk.