Do rich people make you uncomfortable?
I’ve been surprised lately at how many people say they don’t like rich people. For example, I have massage therapist friends who won’t work on wealthy people (How’s that for a business plan!) because they find rich people’s concerns and troubles just too far removed from what they consider reality. Another example. I have a group of friends that raise guide dog puppies and they are great people. I never realized that they were all pretty wealthy until I invited a friend to a guide dog puppy party and he said he had nothing in common with them. I tried pointing out all the things they had in common (dogs, kids, houses, location, hobbies) and he just couldn’t get over that they were in a different socio-economic group therefore they must not have anything in common!
I wasn’t raised in a rich family but it was rich in experience. Every year I become more aware of how diverse my experience was. I have a friend who also grew up overseas – she’s lived in several different countries and met lots of people and she’s very outgoing. I thought that meant she’d be comfortable in any social situation. So I was surprised when I took her to a country western bar and she was extremely uncomfortable – it was a culture she had never experienced before. She didn’t dance (even though she loves dancing) and she won’t go back.
Growing up not only did I meet farmers as well as city people, I also met rich people as well as poor people. (And for the record, despite the stereotype some farmers are very wealthy.) I have friends who have more family money than I’ll ever have unless I win the lottery and I have friends that barely make it paycheck to paycheck. My dad even used to invite this homeless woman to a cup of coffee every day. So I never knew that people in different socio-economic groups make people uncomfortable. I never considered them different than me – they might have different problems or different priorities because life has dealt them a different deck of cards but they were still people very much like me! It also helps that I know millionaires that wear jeans and drive old pickup trucks and people driving brand new cars that live paycheck to paycheck.
I think people are uncomfortable with rich people because they believe that money will solve all their problems. And if money will solve all their problems then rich people must not have any real problems. Neither is true. Money might enable you to buy clothes and activities for your kids but it won’t teach you how to be a good parent. Money might buy you the right clothes and entrance to clubs but it won’t buy you good friends. Money might give you time to spend with your spouse but it won’t make you a good partner. Money might enable you to go to med school but it won’t make you a doctor. Money can’t live your life for you and while it may make some things easier it won’t solve all your problems. If you were rich, you would still have problems and they would not be trivial.
Rich people are just people too. When you consider what money can do to someone, you might even consider that the rich are people with more problems than average. They can’t blame lack of money for not accomplishing something in life.