We’ve been talking about how the TV and Hollywood creative types are forever painting unflattering pictures of rich and successful people. But have you ever given much thought to how even the mainstream financial press portrays wealthy people?
Billionaires like Bill Gates, Larry Ellison, and Richard Branson are subject to an inordinate amount of slanted articles, snarky comments or even derision.
Instead of chastising and ridiculing billionaires like Gates, we should be celebrating them. (Just as we should be celebrating Olympic athletes, spiritual leaders, people with good marriages, and others who manifest prosperity in its other forms.)
But they are not celebrated, even in publications that are supposedly devoted to free enterprise. The subliminal message is that their great wealth somehow comes at the expense of the poor. And the danger of exposing yourself to this kind of input is that it creates subliminal programming in your own subconscious mind that to become successful yourself, you will have to take advantage of others.
I received a scathing message from a lady who questioned whether I share my wealth with those who are poor and only live a short drive my “lavish lifestyle. “ I most certainly do. But I do it in accord with my spiritual and philosophical principles.
I tithe to my church, ten percent of everything I pay myself. I also give a great deal of money to charity, scholarship foundations, and cultural organizations like the Symphony and the Opera.
Here’s the key...
I don’t do it because these organizations “need” it. Or because it’s the “right” thing to do, or the politically correct one. I do it because of the joy it gives ME. In other words, for perfectly selfish reasons.
I’ve mentioned Ayn Rand before. Ayn was one of the most brilliant thinkers in the last century; a true genius, and someone who understood the concept of value for value. She wouldn’t call it prosperity consciousness (she was a devout atheist), but she possessed it in spades. Her novel, “Atlas Shrugged” should be required reading, every year, for people concerned with prosperity.
Another work of hers, and the one relevant here, is her book “The Virtue of Selfishness.” If you haven’t read it, you should read it now. When asked why she chose to use a word that threatened so many people, Rand replied, “For the reason that makes you afraid of it.”
I, like Rand did, use the word “selfish” to describe virtuous qualities of character. How does that grab you? Let me explain...
The dictionary definition of selfishness is basically concern with one's own interests, without regard for others. It means, I value myself first, regardless of what anyone else thinks. Notice that there is no good or evil implicit in the definition. That, 'without regard for others' does not mean that you are doing harm to others. It simply means that you are well adjusted and sensible enough to meet your own needs first.
Now of course that’s not the herd would have you believe...
They tell you that your moral imperative is to put the interests of the many before the interests of the one. That you should sacrifice yourself for the “greater good.”
This idea is very dangerous to your self-esteem and your life. Relinquishing your happiness for the sake of others, known or unknown, verifies to yourself, and others, that you are small and unworthy of even your own attention. It’s actually anti-humanity, and it makes you crazy!
Your survival and your pursuit of happiness must form the foundation of your value system. To make your life, by your own means, towards your own standards, and for your own enjoyment. Anything less than that is harmful to you. And anything harmful to the individual is actually detrimental to society as a whole. Read that last sentence again. Make sure that you really get it.
But don’t think the herd is smart enough to figure that out. They’re not.
They will maintain that the needs of the individual be relinquished to the needs of the masses. They tell you that it is your responsibility to take care of the less fortunate. And they will try every racket they know to make you feel guilty if you believe otherwise.
If someone accuses me of being selfish, I respond “guilty as charged.” What about you?