Power, Fame or Wealth
A friend recently asked me which I
would prefer to be, very powerful, independently wealthy, or world
I chose independently wealthy for a
number of reasons.
First, George Bush is powerful but he
can’t tell the French or Germans what to do. His power, being
overwhelming, must be used with care and is of little value against
an elusive person who wishes to defy him. Even his two main prey,
Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden, are beyond his power.
Second, movie stars are famous but
their fame is valueless unless they choose to use it for good. Fame
also gives them little credibility beyond acting.
A person who is independently wealthy
has freedom, the freedom to move, to learn, to grow, to change the
world in great and small ways.
Wealth allows a person to indulge his
or her passion in ways the famous and powerful cannot do. Wealth
does not create instant fame. Indeed most wealthy people are
anonymous, unknown to the general public. They prefer it that way,
pursuing their passions in the background.
Wealth is a means, not an end. Wealth
is meaningless unless it is accompanied by action to better the
Heinrich Schliemann worked for decades
to build the wealth needed to pursue his passion, finding the lost
Greek city of Troy. His wealth brought the world greater knowledge
of its history and culture and a better understanding of the great
epic poems of Homer.
To wield power or manage fame is an
end in itself. Great wealth is a means to a better end, a more
rewarding end, and end that leads to a better life for many.