Making money and making a difference, though closely related, are not entirely congruent. There are plenty of people out there with no money that are somehow managing to affect the lives of others in a positive way — just as there are people who are considerably wealthy who ignore all those other than themselves. Money does not necessitate the need to help others; being human necessitates that.
We are all responsible for the human race and the planet that we live on. No one chooses what life he or she is born into; that is chosen for him or her. Just the same, there are those who have the odds stacked so high against them in their fight towards happiness that any seed of hope that they may have once had has already rotted and vanished. Why would you believe yourself to be more deserving of happiness than they?
It’s easy to ignore all the hardship and suffering in the world when you aren’t in the middle of the chaos. It’s easy to forget how evil or, more accurately, stupid and criminally insane, some people are — people that always to manage to find themselves in a position of power, doing all they can to manipulate the system so that it benefits them most.
There are always people somewhere being harassed, abused, murdered, raped, mutilated, starved and dehydrated. There are people dying from diseases, which have already been cured. There are companies out there who are keen on making a dollar by destroying the planet. It’s hard to imagine how the entire human race could be wiped off of the planet.
Then again, it’s also hard to imagine how we could be continuously destroying the planet’s ozone knowingly. Even harder to imagine how the world and all living things on this planet won’t be affected by the hundreds of thousands of gallons of radioactive waste that has been pumped into our oceans — the largest body on the planet. Hard to imagine how so much radioactive water, remaining radioactive for the next 30,000 years, won’t affect us.
There is plenty of suffering and there are plenty of problems in the world. The current estimates for stopping the leak at the nuclear plant in Japan? Forty years. Yes, four-zero years. I imagine that you now see the difference between making money and making a difference. You may not understand it yet, but your life is in danger right now.
Money, wealth and fame lose all their importance if faced by certain death. It’s when we believe that we may cease to exist that we begin to see things from a clearer perspective. If no one can stop the radiation, it only makes logical sense that all life on this planet will either be dead or mutated. If someone doesn’t help that little girl get clean drinking water, she will die. She is incapable of helping herself; her life is in the hands of the world — just as your life is now in the hands of someone else.
Our lives are and always have been in the hands of someone else. We are the only animals in the world that rely on our parents for so many years. We then rely on someone to teach us, hire us, give us money, buy from us, sell to us… We live in a society and rely on that society for survival.
The decisions that others make, the people that keep you protected, those that create the food you eat, you owe your life to all of them, just as they owe there’s to everyone that has somehow, sometime contributed to their existence. You have been helped your entire life, yet aren’t willing to help those that really need it. Does that make you a horrible person? In a sense, yes. If you are in the position to help then you should, period.
This is not to say that only those in the worst conditions, needing the most help should be helped rather than those closest to you. Of course, there is a philosophical argument to be made to that extent, but there are plenty of those close to you that you can help. Sure, it would be great if you could save someone’s life, but just as we are responsible for the happiness of others, we are also responsible for our own happiness. We are often too busy following our own dreams for much else — understandable. But you must find time some time. You have a lifetime to do all the things that you want and should do. If you truly wanted to help, you could find a balance.
Balance is what is needed. We want to be happy and have a generally good idea of what will make us happy. For most of us, happiness is tightly correlated with our financial situation and therefore financial freedom ought to be pursued. Making money is time consuming, no argument there — especially if you’re aiming high. You don’t need millions to be happy, but I will argue that making a difference on a larger scale requires it.
Making money is only worth the time if it’s put towards something good and worthwhile, something that will affect you and others in a positive way, increasing the standard of living and level of happiness. If you are someone who prefers interacting with those closest to them, then there are plenty of ways for you to improve the lives of those you love most — little to money required. Calling your grandma can make a big difference on a small scale. If you want to change the world — or save it — then you’re going to need money, and lots of it. Once I came to realize this, my perspective on life completely changed.