Wealth & poverty

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Saturday, July 12, 2014


POVERTY is pervasive in our country. But while I agree that a vast portion of financial wealth in the country is in the hands of a few, I think it would be unjust to say that this privileged minority did not work hard to get to their positions of financial stability.

While some of the moneyed members of the country may have inherited their wealth and a few of them can actually call themselves members of the “non-working rich,” many of the privileged few in our country can actually call themselves, “the working rich.” They also work hard 24/7.

And then there are those who are self-made—those not born into privilege but through hard work, determination and discipline, have managed to move up professionally and have found financial stability to uplift their families.

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I have found that wealth, self-made or inherited, cannot be sustained without a strong work ethic. This, I believe, is the secret to success and the standard by which everyone, born rich or poor, should measure themselves against.

It is very important to go to work everyday with the right attitude. When you go to work everyday with the goal of being productive, you will automatically achieve much on a daily basis. But if you go to work with only the goal of collecting a day’s salary, you will not go far in life, whether you are born to a CEO or a beggar in the street.

Whenever I get the chance, I speak with the marginalized in our country and I have found that the common denominator is usually a battered wife, an alcoholic husband and six to ten children. This is a tragedy. And oftentimes, it is just one person working to support the entire family.
When I inquire about the other adult members of the family, the usual reply is, “Nag stand by lang.” I almost want to ask how they can afford to “stand by” meaning just bum around and not look for a job.

Admittedly, it is not easy to find a job when you are not skilled or highly educated but it is not impossible to do. There are jobs available but they are hard and they are not high-paying. To me, though, any job (so long as it is decent & legal) is better than no job at all.

But there are cases of parents who refuse to send their kids to school even if it’s for free because they prefer for their kids to beg in the streets. There are cases of young people who refuse free vocational and technical training in lieu of government dole-outs. And there are cases of people who after landing a job, still opt to be lazy and lackadaisical because they choose not to be productive and purposeful individuals.

The rich have often been blamed for becoming richer at the expense of the poor becoming poorer. But this, I can tell you. Those who coast along in life, whether rich or poor, won’t go far. Don’t buy into the myth that you don’t have to work hard to acquire or sustain wealth.

Poverty is pervasive in our country and that is a tragedy. But the greater tragedy is when those who have more in life squander their wealth away and those who have less in life do not do anything to lift themselves out of poverty even when given the opportunity.

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(Email: sunstarcebucolumnist@yahoo.com, twitter: http://twitter.com/melanietlim)

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on July 13, 2014.

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