This column is not for the faint-hearted. The line here is bold and brass, and this surely is the place where we call succubus by name.

Poverty and Wealth: Two Toxic Impostors

By: Basil Jide Fadipe
Medical Surgeon, Teacher, Social Commentator
Justin Fadipe Centre
Commonwealth of Dominica
West Indies

I will cut to the chase. Avoid as you would a plague, those two toxic brothers ….poverty and wealth … that is if you want enduring and unfaked happiness inside your life or inside your world . wealth in particular, the guiltier ….far more toxic than poverty contentment factor, the differential. Contentment may help the poor to be less unhappy, being content , he may be better able to reconcile with / adjust to whatever level of comfort or discomfort poverty throws at him. Not so the wealthy. Contentment and wealth are mutually exclusive attributes.

If the wealthy were a contented individual to start with, he wouldn’t be as far out as wealthy the journey towards wealth cut short by contentment/ satiation way before it cumulates into disabling/ worrisome wealth; But No!!! … the stinking rich is not the kind. …relentless addiction to growing or multiplying his dollars is now an end in itself the engine unable to reverse into slow rev. So it seems safe to argue that while one may stumble on the contented poor, it is almost illusion to expect to stumble on a contented wealthy.

Bitten by the get-rich- bug , unceasing desire for exponential riches reduces the wealth seeker to a tireless work horse racing in dizzying gallops towards the land of uncommon wealth but also of uncommon self-procured torture . Wealth- farming is unlike most other kinds of farming! There is the …physical demand on the body , ….emotional demand on the mind, …..killer instinct inside the head and ….constant fear factor or insecurity often with gut wrenching readiness to be Machiavellian ….means less and less important than ends, conscience less and less a player. And when the wealth finally arrives, howsoever determined, the job of keeping it safe and fecund is just as onerous as the labor incurred on the journey to wealth . The poor and the wealthy are separated by level of attainable comfort, the latter, ( less so the former) easily able to buy comfort to hearts desire but both often inhabit nearly same place in the level of unhappiness ( unless contentment comes to the rescue of the poor) .

A major source of unhappiness and constant anxiety for the wealthy is the number of false friends and true enemies attracted by their wealth; the poor has less of such. The awareness of false friends and true enemies forces the wealthy to want to dig in further and further to store up more wealth as the imagined recipe to protect against this unsettling situation or possible twist of fate . Not only are they constantly anxious about false friends and true enemies for themselves , even more torturesome, they often also are for their children and loved ones , the security implications for these additional layers of worry further triggering more bizarre and reflexive desire for more wealth to be able to afford overwhelming protection against real and imaginary foes.

To complicate matters, the wealth of the wealthy may much easier buy for their children not any tangible education ( though they will wish it did ) but more likely crass or disguised ignorance reaching into uneducability along with arrogance/ pomposity dangerous or embarrassing visibility, risky pursuits/ hobbies each of which in turn may create the desire for more wealth in a futile bid to insure against or manage untoward consequences. And yes money thrown into the dynamics may prevent or mitigate some of these consequences, but far fewer are amenable to money impact ; an ignorant child remains a toxic product unalterable to mere money and unable to redeem himself from himself far less from the wild society he inhabits . All of these potential headaches of stinking rich have little to do with the legitimacy or otherwise of means of acquisition . just the mere presence of wealth. Now add to that illegitimacy when it exists !

Wealth created through illegalities or evading or twisting the rules or merely being lucky (without adequate preparations ) can be many times more toxic to the possessor, reduced often to victims of wealth rather than beneficiaries . ….a constant burden of risk of jail if and when found out. So whilst the poor and the wealthy may be comparably unhappy , the former for being unable to meet needs (even the crucial) the latter comfortable as he may be often finds himself inside an internal agony, known only to himself and self alone , sleep and peace, occasional guests.

When the wealthy also happens to be powerful, the mathematical combination of true enemies and false friends from the respective lines of power and of wealth can summate into lethal dose the final mediators, chronic stress diseases of hypertension, indigestion, poor sleep , chronic anxieties and mistrust , along with the constant need to always have to stay few steps ahead of adversaries including those who would wish to physically rob, armed or unarmed. How much of a good family can forge from such a hot- house existentialism ?

Transgenerational compromisation of character formation and civic sensitivities may therefore be constant risk in which the products from wealthy homes too soon lose it all after the demise of their parents. How much should amount to too much ? ….too slippery/confounded computations to attempt figures But …start with the most advanced nation where we can reasonably assume cost of living is several times higher than the less advanced ! I wish to suggest that anyone inside these parts who finds it necessary to have more than 3 million dollars at any particular point in time to meet his existentisl needs ( or even wants ) is beginning to look for trouble ; …,descent into stressful and melancholic existence. ….And inside less developed nations? even less should be required if unhappiness is to be kept at bay . And for the poor, there are many routes to evading poverty , the least unreliable goal oriented hard work. If you wish to have a family, seek to engage in activities that ‘ increase the share of each not the number that have to share ‘.

You increase the number to share when for a particular set income , you fail to limit the number of children/ dependants and you increase the share of each when for a particular set family population, you engage in increasingly gainful activities no matter how humble or meager the start. But whatever the poor does , he must avoid a journey that shifts him away from inside the unhappiness of poverty into the even more agonizing unhappiness of wealth. Enriching the mind is always to be preferred to enriching the pocket

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