What Wealth Really Brings

It is not the man who has too little, but the man who craves more, who is poor.
— Seneca

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Bling Photo by Plush Design Studio on Unsplash

The lead article in this morning’s Hyperallergic eNewsletter is about the relationship between wealth and art. More specifically, the Hakim Bishara piece is titled A Study Says High Family Income Significantly Increases Likelihood of Becoming an Artist.

There were several reasons the Bishara article caught my eye. First, upon reading the title I thought of my own life and how growing up in the Bridgewater ‘burbs was a significant step up from the near abject poverty of my father’s upbringing. I pursued an art major. He pursued a career in which giving his children a better life than he experienced was a priority.

Having recently watched The Grapes of Wrath, based on John Steinbeck’s novel of the same name, it was apparent that the Joad family was more focused on survival than on encouraging the children to go to art school.

But the second notion that entered my thoughts upon reading this story had to do with wealth and suicide. Just this past weekend I heard someone say that wealthier nations have a higher suicide rate than poorer nations. When you hear something in passing you seldom ask for sources, so I took a minute to Google a few stories to support this assertion. It wasn’t difficult.

Here’s the first, from Business Insider: ‘Keeping Up With The Joneses’ Could Lead To Suicide

The second is a study from the psych department at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign: Does economic prosperity enhance the quality of human life? Across 101 nations, 32 indices were analyzed that reflect a representative sample of universal human values (e.g., happiness, social order, and social justice). Wealth correlated significantly with 26 of the 32 indices, indicating a higher Quality of Life (QOL) in wealthier nations. The wealth of nations revisited: Income and quality of life . Here’s an abstract of the research by Ed Diener and Carol Diener:

Does economic prosperity enhance the quality of human life? Across 101 nations, 32 indices were analyzed that reflect a representative sample of universal human values (e.g., happiness, social order, and social justice). Wealth correlated significantly with 26 of the 32 indices, indicating a higher QOL in wealthier nations. Only suicide and CO2 emissions were worse in wealthier societies. (Emphasis mine)

This TIME article by Josh Sanburn makes a similar assertion: Why Suicides Are More Common in Richer Neighborhoods .

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Upon reading these things my thoughts turned to Viktor Frankl’s Man’s Search For Meaning. Money as an end helps keep a roof over our heads but can’t fully satisfy the hunger in our hearts. Just a little food for thought.

A Lesson from 29 Golden Gate Suicide Attempts

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An avid reader who writes about arts, culture, literature & other life obsessions. @ennyman3 Look for my books on Amazon https://tinyurl.com/y3l9sfpj

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