Some people say that the best thing about being rich is being able to help other people. What do you think?
What does being rich mean? Does it mean having the most expensive cars, the biggest houses and the most luxurious holidays? Or does it mean being able to use your money to do what you want, enjoying yourself and helping others at the same time? In this essay I will discuss if rich people have a responsibility to help others, and if only rich people can help others.
To begin with, I think being rich is a very relative term. If I have 20 dollars and my friend has only 5, then I am richer than him, even though to a millionaire we are both poor. But I can still help him: we have enough for a meal or two.
Almost all of us, rich or poor, are able to help others. Some people give publicly, while others give without expecting anything in return- not publicity, not a payback, not even gratitude. Some people give time, which can be more valuable than money. Others give expertise or knowledge. Some just give a hand, literally.
Although their time may be limited, rich people also can do all of these, but they can also help in other ways. They are often powerful, and can help change opinions or laws. They have rich friends and together their money and connections can make a difference to an entire society, not just an individual person.
We often hear millionaires say that they want to ‘give something back’- to the community, to their old school, to their sport, or sometimes even to poor people. Bill Gates has his Foundation, fighting malaria and other diseases. But often these gifts come with strings – the rich person is promoting him or herself, saving money on taxes, or just fooling himself that a few million out of a billionaire’s fortune is really helping others. Rich people therefore have to examine their reasons for helping other people to see if they are really just helping themselves.
Perhaps we should be slower to criticize people who help, and quicker to help others ourselves. There will always be poor people in the world; equally, there will always be rich. But whether rich or poor we can all choose to help each other in different ways.