I will always remember the group of students who “occupied” our student union building for what seemed like months in protest of…. maybe Sbarro’s or was it Panda Express. Regardless of their success/failure in the HUB, the “occupy” method was a very visible protest of the 99% vs. the 1%, and has been an interesting topic of debate heightening many people to anger over the distribution of national wealth.
I think most of us identify with the 99% in this argument but regardless, my post is not intended to add kindle to the fire by picking sides. Regardless of your stance or opinion on this particular subject, please join me as we zoom out a bit and view this in a different light.
Take a deep breath… Okay keep reading…
According to the World Institute of Development Economics at the United Nations University, you would be in the top half in the world wealth distribution as an adult if you had assets of $2200 a year.
$2200 a year……….. That’s it…… Imagine trying to live off of that. And that’s the ceiling of the bottom half of the world’s adults. Which means that this money is used to support their dependents as well, like their children.
And… The bottom half of the world combine for just a little more than 1% of the world’s total wealth.
We fail to realize that with a median income of close to $50,000 in this nation, most of us are part of the top 10-20% of the world when it comes to wealth. Wealth isn’t exactly income. It’s the difference between income plus assets minus debts so that’s important to note. Our limited perspective makes us seem poor in comparison to millionaires and billionaires, when in fact we are some of the most fortunate in the world.
The reason I bring all this up is because I’ve been thinking recently, “Why are we this fortunate?”
Why was I raised in a developing country when most of the world isn’t? Why will I get to live in the comfort of a home and have food on the table when nearly a billion people in the world are living without enough food on a consistent basis? Why, even if I were lazy, would I be more stable than men and women who gave so much sweat and tears for less?
Is it completely by chance; A flip of a coin or the roll of a die? Is that really how it works?
Is it that God places us in different circumstances and provides us with blessings and challenges that show us our need for Him. If so, that raises more questions, but questions that we in our limited perspective will completely be able to answer.
Minus small differences due to our personal efforts, I can’t think of an argument that is centered around us earning our position, or them earning their depravity. Regardless of your belief, doesn’t that change our sense of entitlement to money a little bit? Why am I better off than more than half the world?
I’m sure we all agree though that there is a stronger desire for us to hold on to what we have than to use it to benefit others. And not that it’s always a conscious thought, but when we look at ourselves, we see the internal battle of the 99% mentality vs. the 50% mentality. Are we pitying ourselves or lending a helping hand to those who are struggling?
This shouldn’t feel like guilt is twisting our arms behind our backs to give money. I know I personally struggle with the desire to hold on to my money and feel guilted into donating. We should be thankful that we have the gift of security and the opportunity to help others. And money isn’t the only way to help either. Volunteering our time and energy in service is another powerful way to help those in need.
And I don’t want to diminish our drive to help those in need here in the United States. There are people in the United States who are a part of the bottom 50% internationally. And the efforts of some of the top 1% here are extremely admirable and should not be forgotten or downplayed.
The facts show that we are very fortunate financially to live where we live. Right now many are asking “Why won’t the 1% help out the 99%?” And it’s a fair question, but I hope we also ask, “What would happen if the top 50% of this world was constantly looking out for the bottom 50%?”
“Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.”
1 Timothy 6:17-19