Many years ago, in one of our Public-Speaking sessions, a young girl was introducing herself. She hailed from a very affluent family and her father was a very reputed and respected individual known to almost everyone present in the class. The girl had kept her introduction short and crisp. She was extremely confident, graceful and, importantly, humble.
After the girl had spoken, I went to the stage to give my feedback. While highlighting her humility, I drew everyone’s attention to the obvious fact that she had downplayed her family’s status, wealth or position and, her humility had stolen our hearts. My remarks were instantly greeted with a long applause from the audience. But, the real humbling-experience for me, that morning, was just in waiting. After the applause had subsided, the girl said, with even more grace and politeness: “Sir, those things are of my dad; I am here to learn how to make my own mark!”
And, even before I could grasp the full meaning of this young-girl’s words, the audience was on its feet!
She deserved that standing ovation!
Another episode comes to my mind.
It was past midnight, and I was there at the arrival area of our International Airport. The flight was delayed by an hour and I decided to buy a waiting-lounge ticket so that I could relax in the air-conditioned lounge. Just as I bought the ticket, I saw a middle-aged man in the waiting crowd, across the barricade. He had come with his wife and two young children. I knew this man very well… They were very rich. As they were waiting for the same flight, I suggested them that they could rest for an hour inside with me.
“Please carry on;” the gentleman said politely, “it is just a matter of an hour. We can wait here!”
There was neither any shame nor any pretense in the statement which I had just heard. “It is okay… The waiting here is not a big deal!” … Yes, this was the message. The message was also this: “Just because we can afford to buy the ticket, doesn’t necessarily mean we should do it. We choose how to spend our hard-earned money!”
I had already bought the ticket… and, so, I had to walk into the air-conditioned enclosure… But, with all my honesty, I say this: I was unable to ‘relax’ after that.
When our dear ones arrived, our hugs conveyed the same warmth. They did not ask us as to where we had waited… But, we knew!
I shall always remember this late-night incident at the airport. The man had taught me, in one casual stoke:
“Use your hard-earned money wisely!”
“Use your hard-earned money wisely!”
Well, when I mention this airport-episode, some don’t agree with that kind of use of money. “It is more of a stingy attitude,” they argue, “What is our money for… it we can not enjoy at least in this manner?”
Even some of you might argue with me, as well.
So, let me not deviate from the basic theme of today’s Post. “Flaunting of our wealth!”
If wealth is hard-earned, we know what wealth means. We know how it can make or break us depending on how we use it. It is heartening to note that many super-rich don’t flaunt their wealth… They live like ordinary men, in ordinary houses, with ordinary life-style. They inculcate in their children the value of money… and, teach them to use it judiciously… make their own mark, learn to earn it… respect it.
On the other side of the spectrum, there are those super-wealthy individuals, and, they do flaunt. They desperately try to live like Kings… And, their children?
My mind goes back to even before that young-girl episode on stage. It was another Sunday morning. The young ones were heatedly debating on the topic: “Money is the root of all evil.”
An incredibly wealthy business-tycoon had just died in prison a miserable death. Once hailed as – what they call some, even today – ‘King of Good Times’ - He was a ruined man, now! It was the national news those days. So, one of our young-participants cited the example of this fallen tycoon and declared, “Look at his life… He died like a dog!”
“So what, my friend?” asked the opponent, “He lived like a King!”
The class was divided. Both the participants had received equal applause!
I still smile and shake my head, every time I revisit this episode… “In Life, all of us have to learn our lessons the hard way,” I conclude in my mind, “Some flaunt it; some don’t!”
“Money is a good servant…
but, a bad master!”
I hope, no King will argue on it!
Pics.: Lionel Saldanha