Is Material Wealth Bad? 

Is Material Wealth Bad?

In a world in which a small few possess the majority of all material wealth, it is only to be expected that among those without the wealth there will be some who claim that excessive material wealth is not such a good thing, that material wealth of any extent is not to be sought above mental pursuits. Of course such people generally have enough food to eat each day, clean water, and a nice comfortable bed to sleep in each night.

But is material wealth actually worth anything? Of course it is. The more material wealth you have, the more you can affect the world. Of course, material wealth is not the ultimate way to affect the world. A simple knife, or a slug of metal moving at two thousand feet per second, can end the wealthiest person's efforts at affecting the world. The fact is that a very wealthy person (or an assassin) has much greater influence over the current and future world than does someone who is materially poor. It is extremely rare that someone with little or no material wealth has any great and lasting effect on the world. Nearly every turn in the course of world affairs is caused by the wealthy and materially powerful. The desire to have such a capacity to guide the future is not shallow; on the contrary, it is far more relevent and important than any attempts to prove one's spirituality by divesting one's self of material wealth.

But short of being capable of working such changes on the world, is there any value to material wealth? Straight away I can see two reasons to acquire it. First, it can be used to secure a better future for one's offspring, to buy their way into better education and a safer than average home environment. Second, material wealth often brings physical comfort, and there's nothing wrong with physical comfort.

Some might say that the bad side of material wealth then is when that wealth is acquired or kept at the expense of others, and to the detriment of others. This seems the only case in which material wealth can be considered bad, but of course even then the material wealth itself is not bad; rather it is the use of that wealth which can cause problems. If two men are facing a tiger, and only one man has a spear, the armed man has a better chance of surviving because he has the material wealth. The one with the spear may decide to protect only himself, let the tiger feed, and go on his way safe and happy. Until the next tiger comes along. Of course the armed man could assist the unarmed man, fight off the tiger, and they could then work at creating another spear, in which case they would have a much better chance of surviving an encounter with any future tigers.

That's called an analogy, ladies and gentlemen, and I believe it clearly illustrates a very obvious and logical point. There's nothing wrong with material wealth. A spear can be very useful. But a spear is even more useful if everyone has one.

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