Tuesday, May 06, 2008

The Girl Whisperer

as published by the Sunday Guardian

May 4

A Rich Man’s World

Money is a defence, so the good book says. I’ve been doing a study of monetary matters across all fields and it’s interesting the views held by religious and secular circles. Basically, they all say the same thing and which is why there are so many self-help/how to be a millionaire in 10 days/who moved my cheese sandwich?/rich dad, dumb dad books (and why so many people buy them).

I read that a person that has a servant (and is despised) is better than he that honours himself and has none. That would mean the despised employer of labour is better than the self-righteous person. It also says a poor man’s wisdom is despised. My interpretation of that nugget was that in a gathering of regular, everyday people, the wisdom of the unwealthy would be the least appreciated. That’s sad but true. How many of us have looked down and discountenanced the opinion of the not-so-rich uncle when more affluent relatives were giving suggestions? We are impatient with them, can barely control our contempt for their contributions. It’s the way the world is, and it takes a really big person not to act in this manner.

Human beings are influenced by the packaging, no matter how vehemently they deny this. It is not a conscious thing, this preference for the guy with the air-conditioned car, the well-cut suit, the perfume that doesn’t smell cheap. Costume jewellery isn’t the same as gold. Those who know, know. There is a natural gravitation towards the fellow with the comfortable apartment, the clean sheets in his laundry, not some grease stained cover cloth that could pass for a dirty restaurant’s table cloth, with the amount of food droppings on it.

Are we naturally programmed to be more favourably disposed towards the comfortable, the same way we are wired to be nicer to good looking people? (The latter’s been scientifically proven so don’t even take me up on that). For some reason, really ‘comfortable’ people are usually only completely comfortable with people like themselves. Remember Julius Caeser saying, “Yon Cassius has a lean and hungry look; I want fat men around me”. His failure to implement that decision cost him his life a short while later.

The chap with the nice car, with the shoes that tell of Italian leather gets a second look and therefore, because we all know this, there is a drive to excel, to win, to become better people. Well, mostly, but some can’t be bothered. “Take me as I am”, they say, showing the remnants of three meals before still stuck between their teeth. For this person who feels no need to join the rat race, he is blessed because his worries are minimal. In this case, there is no compulsion to buy a bigger and better car, get a new house, and buy new clothes all the time. Unfortunately, not many of us can be like that.
We are disciples of the philosopher, Horace, who said, ‘get money. Legitimately if you can but get money anyhow.’

Why is it so important to have money? True, the finest things in life are free, but that car with doors that slide instead of opening like the regular car, isn’t free. Most people would prefer to sit in an air-conditioned room than in one with just a fan recycling hot, stifling air. A child sweating while poring over his books might not do as well as one reading in a cool room. I watched an African- American comedian (yes, another, I love comedy) mimic Africans. He said the reason there are so many wars in Africa is because the land is hot. In a guttural African voice, he played an African just waking up- “This weather is too hot. I swear I will kill somebody today”. The guys who display road rage on the streets of Lagos usually have had their brains singed by the afternoon sun of the tropics. Little wonder our public transport drivers all seem to drive like lunatics. An air conditioner is not a luxury in Africa, no matter what anyone tells you. It’s a basic need, as essential as food.

So back to the money. Is it a rich man’s world? You bet it is. Money is not the root of all evil; it’s the inordinate desire to get rich at all costs that causes evil. Now just being comfortable would amount to riches for some and there really is no yardstick in this matter but you should have the ability or driving desire to meet your basic needs. Wear clothes, eat good food, have a roof over your head. When those things are sorted, you can strive to better yourself, upgrade the shoes, etc. The undoing of Africa is that we find it hard to take orders from people younger than we are even if they are our bosses at work. A word for those who are like this- You’ll be sacked, and deservedly if you continue like that.

The Whisperer’s advice to those aspiring to be comfortable? Save money, invest in stocks, speak to responsible established brokers, don’t spend it all on fleeting things. But above all, don’t make the mistake of measuring yourself against the next man, it’s a fool’s way, for there will always be people greater than you and lesser than you.


dScR?Be said...

WORRRRDDDD!!!! **fist held high in the air**

I'm feelin this entire edition because... its true...
Heat period has a way of making people do funny things.. I think cold subdues people more...

I really like dis post b/c many times, I too get caught up comparing myself with the fellow man to the point where i loose my will to be better... I'm waayyyyy better than i used to be... Thank God...

Nice one mehn...

ibiluv said...

nicely said............

lamikayty said...

I like the end of the post. Cos its so so true there'll always be people richer or poorer than you. I guess the key is being CONTENT with whatever you have! difficult but true and I guess wisdom comes with maturity.
I remember being younger and wondering or rather being upset that various cousins didnt come and spend time in our house. Looking back now, there was no DSTV, no video games, no maids and 'nothing' that would entice anyone to spend more than a few days. They'd rather be in a place where they'd just eat and someone else would clear and wash their dishes. (Who wouldnt?)
Now I dont bother! My living room has only 1 cane sofa, not because I cant afford more or better but simply because I like it that way!
Really nice post!

rethots said...

pOINTS-ON "But above all, don’t make the mistake of measuring yourself against the next man,..." 'cos, eventually, we are measured by virtue of who we want to be.

Brilliant piece.