“So how do you plan to kill me?” Charles Morse (played by Anthony Hopkins) asked Robert Green (played by Alec Baldwin) in “The Edge.” It was at that moment that I realized I had a deep-held sympathy for the super wealthy. It’s got to be a lonely life. It’s got to be a life void of trust and sadly, a life of being vilified by the media and politicians alike, through no fault of your own. Sure you should probably never feel bad for a guy who owns a plane, but I often wonder, how many of us have ever really thought of the country’s wealthiest 2% as actual human beings?
We live in a world today where rich = bad. If a wealthy man shows up in a movie, you are to immediately assume that he’s the bad guy. Of course, these assumptions are never reserved for the middle-eastern terrorists, rather the man with the bryl-creemed hair and Brioni suit. Add to the fact that we have a Harry Reid-minded administration consistently setting up the “Us vs. Them” cultural narrative and it seems that today’s top earners find themselves in a never-ending, uphill battle against public hatred. Prejudice is bad. Why should prejudice towards the rich be any different?
As I foray into new territories in my career (and by foray, I mean play jester-monkey for coin), I find myself meeting more and more of today’s “super wealthy.” Little known fact; most of them are good people. It’s crazy to hear, I know. I expected to see more men looking like the Planter’s peanut guy, thinking only of ways to scheme their next shadily earned dollar. The truth is that like any demographic, you’re going to end up with the same percentage of good people and jackasses. I would even dare to say that I’ve encountered far fewer jerks in the wealthy community, because success leaves less room for that kind of behavior. I’ve met far more selfish poor and middle class people than I’ve ever met wealthy folks. Often, it seems that today’s middle class are so busy nickel and diming their lives that they rarely take the time to help others. My mom never makes me sandwiches anymore.
Try this; at the next business gathering or conference that you attend, stand back and observe the interaction of the general public with some of the wealthiest people in the room. Throughout the night you’ll see people treat them as veritable ATM’s, extending common courtesy only for as long as it takes them to pitch their latest investment or product. Sometimes these are the same people who turn around and complain about the “have’s and the have not’s” as they lobby for higher taxes on aforementioned rich people.
It’s for that reason that my heart goes out to them. Their life becomes more insular as their wealth continues to grow. The people whom they can trust drop to few and far between as they’re forced to question the motives of everyone around them. More importantly, people are conditioned to hate them for no reason other than the fact that they’re more successful than the rest of us.
So the next time you meet a rich man, give him a big warm hug and let him know that you don’t hate him for his money.
Then prepare to be tased.