Due to a series of events, I was having a mental discussion with myself asking the question "Are you rich?" I had a series of different answers as I discussed this with myself (as I was pulling laundry off the line, so no one heard me, thankfully).
My initial reaction was "no." I wouldn't claim wealth. It seems like claiming beauty, or intelligence, or most adjectives that are considered positive. No, I am not someone to envy. I'm only ordinary.
But, I argued with myself, consider most of the world. I have clean water, affordable health care, plenty of food for my children to eat (in fact, I doubt they have ever gone to bed hungry). I enroll them in extra-curricular activities that appeal to them, and in fact I do not have a paying job so I can support my children and my family in growing together and supporting the activities that are of value to us. Is there greater wealth.
I doubt my brother-in-law would consider us wealthy. We skip many of the outward trappings of wealth -- cable TV, smart phones, many types of electronics, new clothes. I cannot think of the other outer aspects of wealth, New cars.
This lead me to consider the material wealth of our country. I am spending a lot of time and energy trying to limit the material goods I own. Material goods are so easy to acquire in the US -- even homeless people have carts of goods they carry. In other parts of the world, and in other times, poverty includes a lack of things in addition to a lack of food. People had one blanket, one set of clothes. In Southern California, where the weather is temperate, homeless people carry multiple blankets, sleeping bags, sleeping pads. They have camps where more goods are stored. We throw away so much that people who are living without are able to collect their own surplus out of our discards.
I do not mean that homeless people should do without a second blanket to provide comfort. I do think that some of my wealth can go to help people who need it in better ways than throwing away a blanket for them to use.
I am rich. I have enough, and more than enough. I do not want for anything, although I may want things. Truly, I can have anything I wish for, although I may not have everything I wish for. I limit myself from grabbing everything that I wish for so I do not get sick on the surplus, like a child at a birthday party.
As I comb through everything I have brought into my home over the years, it is beneficial for me to acknowledge that wealth is present without material goods, and my material wealth allows me to operate without a safety net of "things I might use someday." My true wealth is not something that can be seen, stolen, or destroyed. I hope you also are rich.