One may have the best choice of bathtubs at home. But on a rainy day, regardless of whether you’ve showered or not, almost everyone gets wet. There are many who catch colds when they are exposed to rain. Among them the rich are prominent. However, the affluent don’t complain about not being immune to such adverse weather patterns. They don’t have the ruggedness like the less fortunate to weather such storms.
The very poor, those who don’t have the luxury of living in their own homes, might have the strength to bear freezing conditions out in the open. They are talked about for being resilient to adverse weather. These people, who live on the streets, possess a strength that makes them immune to hardships. This feature in them can’t be bought for money. It’s something that’s passed on from one generation to another, like the business of the rich changing hands from their owners to their kith and kin.
Given that it’s time for another election, this writer thought of comparing those who have with the less affluent in a different way. Politicians make a conscious effort to maintain the divide between the rich and the poor. The resilience the poor have developed against sickness, challenging weather patterns coupled with facing hardships have made them the ideal employees that politicians wish to employ for propaganda work.
Those who don’t have can consider themselves lucky. They are the ones who have the potential to cultivate close acquaintances with politicians. However, the problem with politicians is that they give a little and take a lot. The poor must be smart enough to elect politicians from whom they can obtain the most. Given the equation, between those who have and have-nots, it’s encouraging to know that poor people enjoy the greater opportunity to appoint the politician they desire. This is why there is a popular term used in the Sri Lankan political scene which says, ‘this country deserves the politicians it gets’.
We live in an era where hospitals live off those who have poor health. Most patients were not sick to begin with. Some weren’t rich either. They worked hard. With the extra money they generated they raised their living standards. In most such homes, people moved away from traditional dishes and started the habit of consuming fast and instant foods which come with extra calories.
In some of these homes, the breadwinner’s salary may have increased, but it might not be sufficient to live in ‘luxury’ all 30 days of the month. Due to this, there might be a need to eat well for three weeks and spend sparingly during the last week of the month. This reduced diet in the fourth week of the month is called ‘the poor man’s diet’. Those who follow this eating pattern will vouch that what’s consumed during the fourth week of the month fits the description of having a healthy meal on the table.
Being poor has its advantages. One is the guarantee that you will enjoy sound health. There is also the advantage of practicing a prescribed precept which is common to most religions. That precept is finding contentment. Most poor people are contended with what they have.
When thinking about the less affluent, a story surfaces in the mind of this writer. Once a very rich man, who earned the reputation of owning a fleet of fishing boats, went to Jamaica on a holiday.
He got up in the morning and took his cup of coffee and the newspaper to the beachside, which was a few feet from his hotel.
While sipping his coffee he observed a lone fisherman reaching the shore after being at sea the whole night. When their eyes met, the great businessman said,’’ Young man you must think big. You must be like me and one day own a fleet of fishing boats and be successful”.
The fisherman smiled and acknowledged the advice he received. He then asked the rich man, who was in his early fifties, what he’d like do in five years time. “Well my life is busy and complicated. My dream is to sell all my boats and find containment, like you, in owning a single small boat. I also want to work just enough, so that I can catch only the required number of fish I need each day,” he said.
The fisherman smiled and said, “I am living that dream right now without complicating my life”. The rich man didn’t know what to say.
Sometimes people might have just what they need. The right amount of assets contributes to a happy state of mind. When it comes to judging how ‘rich’ the poor are, the affluent can take a cue from the less fortunate.
Sometimes having less is equal to having more in terms of establishing the right balance in life.