We are often appalled by the wealth gap that exits in America. Not only are there tremendous difference in the pay for top executives and those who actually do the work, but there also exists a real disparity in the net worth of white families and that of minority families. In fact, in a 2013 report, African Americans lag behind their white counterparts by a factor of 13 to 1. This is greater than the gap that existed between white South Africans and the Blacks who suffered during apartheid.
While strides have been made in education and voting, it is economic standing that is the most nagging discrepancy that continues to indicate we have not become a society of equals, much less one that is colorblind. It doesn’t seem that education or voting participation can overcome the big difference in wealth that continues to be a feature in our country. Mo Green of the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation said at the recent NC Black Summit that the data indicates that a white person with less than a high school education has more wealth than an African American who has been college educated. It seems like a hole you can neither educate nor vote yourself out of. The difference is stark.
Now that we have a billionaire President and the Supreme Court has determined in its infamous “Citizens United” ruling that corporations have the same rights as individuals and may contribute “blindly” to political campaigns, it is not only the Koch Brothers and their enormous fortunes that affect our public policy. While Bloomberg , Soros and others have long parlayed their wealth to influence public opinion or to even seek political office, we seem to have arrived at the time of “whomever has the gold rules” or the Golden Rule of capitalism. As was said to me, “Money is Smart, and Smart is Money”. It follows just like, --“God is Love, Love is Blind, Ray Charles is Blind, Ray Charles is God.”-- The logic gets lost somewhere.
While I respect those who have made a lot of money, I do not accept that they are somehow smarter than the rest of us who haven’t. I refuse to accept that Donald Trump is more important or smarter than Sister Theresa. Each achieved in his or her own realm.
Money is important but so is family, so are friends, so is the community, so is what you believe, so is commitment, so is dedication, so is effort, so is honesty, so is giving back, so is humility, and so is care for your neighbor.
We must do all we can to close the wealth gap. If that means we need to buy more houses, that’s what we will do. If that means we should “strategically” invest our collective wealth, that’s what we will do. If that means we should keep up our strivings to be better educated, that’s what we must do. If we must continue to work to improve public policy and rid the world of racism and poverty, that’s what we will do.
But, above all else, we must remember that maintaining our “soul” is the most important thing. As the Bible says, “What profit a man if he gains the world and lose his soul?”