In one of my classes, we were asked this question, and the following is my response to it: What does wealth mean to you? What role will wealth play in your life in the future?
Before I can adequately answer what wealth means to me, I have to explain how I personally define wealth. I guess most people would define “wealthy” as not wanting for something, to be surrounded by that which you desire. For me, being wealthy doesn’t necessarily have to mean financial wealth. I would be lying if I said I did not desire for a comfortable future, but I can absolutely say without a doubt that I do not want nor need a future filled with lavishness or excess. As far as monetary wealth goes, my wishes are pretty basic, and I assume most people have the same fundamental wishes that I do: to be able to have a family, to take care of that family, put food on the table, pay the bills, be able to take my kid to the doctor when they are sick without worrying about how I will have to pay for it, to hopefully not live paycheck to paycheck, etc. I hope to have a future that includes the opportunity for me to get married, be a mom, and maybe even be fortunate enough to get to stay at home with my children for at least part of their childhood, if not all of it. I want to be secure enough to be able to always put a little aside each month for my children’s college funds. I want to be able to provide for my family and give my children a good childhood and a good life.
It seems that in todays society, “wealth” means to live in excess. To have five flat screen televisions and at least two cars and one to two more bedrooms in your house than your family can actually occupy. It seems that “wealth” is all about showing off, walking around dressed in items so expensive that you seem to scream, “The total value of everything I’m wearing is more than you have in your bank account right now, ha!”
But to me, being wealthy isn’t about loaded bank accounts or six figure salaries or three foreign sports cars or a black credit card or a designer handbag that cost as much as a semester’s tuition at an in-state university. You could have all those things and still not be fulfilled. You can have everything money can buy in this world, and still feel empty inside. They say, “Money doesn’t buy happiness.” I think that is true, although I do know it does help everyones sanity and well-being to not have to worry about how to make ends meet. But to me, no amount of money can really make you a person of value, that is something you must do entirely on your own. How much money you have in the bank does not determine your self-worth. What restaurant you can afford to eat at does not decide whether or not you are important to this world.
According to the dictionary, “wealthy” is an adjective meaning having a great deal of money, resources, or assets; rich. While this may be the standard and largely accepted definition of “wealth”, it is not a definition that fits into my life, nor is it one I can accept. Do I want to be wealthy in the future? Yes. But I want to be wealthy in love, compassion, relationships, and knowledge. For love is the greatest wealth in this universe, a wealth that far surpasses any monetary value; love is one of the few things left in this world that you cannot put a price tag on. If I am to be wealthy in money, let that only be secondary to being wealthy in love, so that I may use the great monetary excess that I have to help improve the lives of the people who need it most, to help make vast improvements in medicine, and make a difference in the lives of people in third-world countries.
But if I am to be wealthy in anything, let me be wealthy in love. Because despite the power that money holds in this world and the great deal of people who believe it is the most important thing in existance, love will always be more important and more powerful than money could ever hope to be. Money is temporary, love is eternal. And when the day comes that I look back on my life and take my very last breath, I will look back on and enjoy the memories that LOVE made possible. Money might be able to take you to a certain destination, but it is people that give you the memories, and while a very shallow imitation of love may be bought with money, true love is something that can never be purchased. If I have loved well, than I will have lived well.
So if I am to be wealthy in anything, let me be wealthy in love.