Envy, Part 2
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Everyone knows that people in L.A. spend too much time envying the wealth of others---the cars, the homes, the oversized handbags. But no one seems to do anything about it. Indeed, most media work hard to make people feel worse--you know, urging those who rent to envy those who own. Urging those who own to envy those who own in the hills.
Only the Urban Man offers comfort to his fellow citizens. Only the Urban Man rubs balm on the troubled L.A. soul. Today, for example, I plan to rub some balm on the soul of...Bert.
That’s Bert over there, the balding guy waving a glass of wine at an otherwise cheerful poolside party in Brentwood.
“The system stinks,” says my friend, much too loudly. “You don’t get anything in this town unless you’re rich--certainly not respect. I’ve been working here 20 years and I’m supposed to have something to show for it--like a house. Instead, I just keep falling behind. Meanwhile,” says Bert, “The beautiful people just give me those big white smiles.”
Everyone around the pool looks uncomfortable and me, I recall the fearful words of green-eyed Iago, who said of Cassio: “He hath a daily beauty in his life / that makes me ugly.”
Bert’s a teacher in a fancy private school here. He’s grown bald educating the kids of the other people at this party. And hey...I figure that if I could cure Bert of envy, I could cure anyone in this town.
At first, I consider quoting a philosopher--you know, something about being “rich in wisdom.”
Then, I think, “No, better to stick with the facts....I’ve got it...how about the most recent report from the World Institute for Development?”
Here...before I try this out on Bert, I’ll try it on you.
Do you have $2200 in net assets?--like maybe you own an old Chevy still in running condition? Well, according to this study, if you have just $2200, you fall in the upper 50% of the world’s population. That’s right, the upper half. That means you’re better off than three billion other people.
Think about it.
But gee, maybe you have more than $2200. Maybe you control as much as $61,000 in assets! Okay, you’re still renting, but you have like, a real job. Well that $61K puts you in the top 10% of the world’s population. You’re better off than 90% of the people on the blue planet. You’re already in the small club that controls 85% of the globe’s wealth!
Then I would turn to the others around the pool, all folks who may spend too much time worrying about their position in the L.A. race. I’d say, “Maybe you have more. Maybe you control a half million dollars in assets. Heck, that just means you have equity in an L.A. house, and not a fancy one. Well, that $500K puts you in the top 1% of the world’s population, along with only 37 million others, worldwide.
So, unhappy as you may be on a day-to-day basis; and envious as you may be of others in this, the third wealthiest city on earth--you may actually occupy the same bright, glistening bubble as they--and not just in the eyes of some dead philosopher.
Surely, that should make anyone content.
I’m all set to make this speech when unfortunately, Bert’s wife drags him offstage with an embarrassed joke, and the moment passes.
Still, the Urban Man wants to offer these statistics to his listeners. Use them as a sweet balm for the L.A. soul and a ward against the green-eyed monster. Recall them in the lovely backyards of others and recite them as you fall asleep at night--even if you’re sleeping in that $2200 car.
You may not be rich in wisdom, but you may well be...rich.
Copyright © 2007 Marc Porter Zasada. All Rights Reserved.
Photo: Break My Emo/Flickr.com
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