Does Money Change People Or Just Our View Of Them?

Posted on | August 26, 2010 | 163 Comments

Why is it that we tend to dehumanize people who have little/no money but also those who are extremely rich?

There are many directions we can go with this topic but for now I would like to discuss people’s feelings towards wealthy people. I feel one of the best examples for this is athletes. Specifically we will use baseball players since I am an avid baseball fan.

Major League Baseball players are individuals who have worked hard at their craft since they were a child and earned the right to play among the highest possible level of competition.

Alex Rodriguez is the 3rd baseman for the New York Yankees, the highest paid player in baseball and arguably the best player in baseball. The following are some complaints against a player like him:

He is earning too much money and is overpaid

This is a capitalist society and a person not only has a right but is encouraged to try to earn as much as he can. Attempting to be an authority on who is overpaid when you are not the actual one who is paying them is quite silly.

Oh A-Rod doesn’t care he struck out, he has millions of dollars. He’ll go home to his money and be fine.

When you spend MANY YEARS of your life playing the sport you love so much and build into your neurology a habit of demanding such a high standard of play out of yourself, you do not just stop caring overnight when you perform poorly.

People who foolishly believe money is an end all solution to their problems and the key to everlasting happiness might believe that a player’s on field performance (or any problems he may have) are irrelevant because of the size of his bank account.

Furthermore, it is my belief that if you are wealthy and earning millions like athletes, you become a bit desensitized to your wealth. It is not that you stop liking or caring about money but the initial thrill of having a lot of it wears off. As I mentioned before, people who do not have millions of dollars think once you have all that money, you now have everlasting happiness. The people who think this way do not have millions of dollars and because it is something they DO NOT HAVE and are CONSTANTLY CHASING, they see it as magical. I think after a rich person gets over the initial shock of being rich, it becomes apart of his life & maybe even taken for granted a bit. It is not taken for granted in a bad way but the initial enthusiasm for it fades after time has gone by. For example, just like after receiving that toy you really wanted as a kid or getting your 1st car –you no longer have the same OH MY GOD YESSS type happiness about it but still enjoy it. An item or circumstantial condition you thought would be the most amazing thing in your life winds up adding value but does not complete you like you may have thought it would have.

Let’s take it even further, what if a woman in Somalia was able to watch a few days of your life. She might view you the same way a regular person in the US views a rich person. She might think that because you live in a nice home and are able to eat 3 solid meals a day, maybe you do not care about your career or social life because you are wealthier and more fortunate than they are—you don’t care about not achieving your goals that day & can just go home & eat all you want. It is very easy for people to make negative false assumptions about each other, especially those who have more money.

People can also be selective in whether they decide to feel sorry for an athlete or celebrity if something negative happens for the same reasons above.

I admire Alex Rodriguez for his sheer talent alone but there is much more to be admired. The man known as A-Rod worked hard to accomplish his dream of becoming a baseball player, earned as much as he could and gives back to the community.

Alex Rodriguez has absolutely no idea who I am or anything about me and IT DOES NOT MATTER to me. Knowing who I am or doing me any favors is not criteria that I require before I admire someone. Alex earns millions of dollars and I do not but a person’s income is irrelevant to who they are as a person and definitely not acceptable criteria to judge a person’s character or give them sympathy. If something bad happens in A-Rod’s life, I am not going to get upset over it or cry but I can empathize.

Furthermore, if we internalize the logic of not caring about rich people because ‘they don’t care about you’ or ‘they don’t pay your bills,’ the same logic would have to apply to those who do not have money. There are tons of people living in poverty who do not know you, care about you or pay your bills.

I choose to participate in charity work and fundraising to help out those in need. I am aware many of the people being helped will never know who I am. Whether my help is appreciated is irrelevant because I am not doing it to receive appreciation or positive feedback. I do it out of compassion for others and an obligation as a human being to do my part and help contribute. I do it because I feel it is right.

Throughout this article I have been attempting to drive the same point and that is that people are people regardless of what they earn. If you are going to judge them, more suitable criteria would be on the basis of their character and behavior and NOT how much they earn. As far as character goes, the rich person you meet might be one of the most generous people you know and the poor person you come across might be a total asshole. Be conscious of what you are judging people on and the assumptions you make based on your judgment.

DG



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