Success & Society

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It’s often posited that affluent people owe their success to the myriad other less-wealthy people they encounter throughout their lives.

While I think this is true in some respects — no person creates value in a vacuum — I also think repeating such mantras is an ineffective way of approaching cross-class communication. And we need to keep our chatter friendly if we’re going to survive and thrive as a society in the new, worldwide economic environment.

Having experienced both lifestyles — success and impoverishment — at different points over the years, I understand both sides of the coin.

To a poor person, the wealthy seem to be taking advantage of the everyday worker, making use of their labor to earn a fortune. To an affluent person, the poor don’t seem to have proper levels of motivation, but still demand impressive rewards for performing menial tasks.

Neither side is totally right or totally wrong, and both arguments contain truths. But that’s irrelevant.

What is relevant is that no one gains from this game of judgement ping pong. The more one side accuses the other of wrongdoing, the less we all work together. As a result, less value is reinvested in society. And society is where both groups live.

Why does economic polarization result in a less stable and comfortable society?

Think about it this way: why would the wealthy want to improve the world when doing so also helps those who see them as evil? If those outside your class vilify you, the logical response is to pull inward and do your best to ignore them.

On that same note: why would the working class try and improve the world when they feel their efforts only help those who look down upon them? If the system seems rigged for those at the top, those at the bottom have little incentive to work harder or strive for innovation.

We don’t need more walls between classes, we need more bridges. Instead of focusing on the differences — this class is something, that class is whatever — we need to focus on similarities. The greatest similarity we share is that we all live on the same planet, and when that planet is a cesspool, we all live in squalor. When the planet flourishes, we all reap the benefits.

At the end of the day, that’s the only argument that matters.