The 1% are in the news, and everywhere you turn people are talking about them (mostly themselves talking about themselves). The greed and selfishness they exhibit is staggering and disheartening:
- The latest is the idea that rich should have more say in government than the poor, put forth by a crazed rich white dude, “You pay a million dollars in taxes, you get a million votes.”
- Rep John Fleming (R-La) complains that taxes should not be raised because after he pays taxes and, “by the time I feed my family I have maybe $400,000 left over!”
- Rich people acting racist, homophobic, and generally immaturely; who as Kevin Roose said are trouble seeing, “past the foie gras to the real world.”
Keeping up with all this can be depressing and frustrating. On one hand as a political being I want to make sure they do not continue to drag down our world. This means attacking or opposing them, while working towards changing our political/economic situation. As a humanist trying to be a more spiritual person I want to help them heal. I truly feel sorry for the super rich, not the mock sorrow that some write about, although the humor does help me from becoming too depressed over our nation’s economic inequality. One might ask how I can really feel sorry for the super rich.
The answer is simple. I feel empathy for those who are hurting. Those who are so rich and so callous towards others are hurting at such a deep level it is hard to not feel pity for them. After all, a person who truly believes that they are hard pressed to live on $400k a year lacks so many of the basic tenets of humanity (empathy, compassion, humility, etc.) that they have little hope of spiritual growth. I look at these people and I’m reminded of abused children. People so badly hurt and scarred by something in their past 1 that they have lost an important part of their humanity. As the Spanish proverb, “always be patient with the rich and powerful”, quoted in the “Philadelphia Story”implies, the rich act as spoiled children who have never learned limits, boundaries, or even self control.
The fact that these people are basically spiritually children is what allows me to have compassion for them. Just as I have compassion for actual children who behave badly I can can have compassion for the rich who behave that way. However, just as I won’t let a child behave badly, I can and will work towards a world where we do not allow the rich to behave badly and harm the rest of us.
1 I believe this could be their past in this life or a past life, as I believe we live many lives to learn the lessons that we are meant to learn