Why Is "Rich" Often Equated With "Evil"?
I was born in China and it was a place where wealthy people were the public enemy for many decades. The sentiment was spread by the propaganda of the Communist government and resulted in the execution and imprisonment of many families who were considered to be rich. I still remember the songs about overthrowing landlords and the greatness of the working class, but are the wealthy really evil?
Even though I live in America now, I feel that the idea that rich people are evil is also very prevalent here. A popular phrase that is often thrown around is "money is root of all evil". This is a misquoted version of 1 Timothy 6:10 in which the Apostle Paul states, "For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil." It can be inferred that those who love money would strive to become rich, but it does not mean that those who are poor do not love money. Basically, I do not believe that those who are rich are inherently more or less evil than those who have less money.
For the most part, the wealthy people in America are entrepreneurs and business owners. My mother worked for a small business in California for ten years and her boss was extremely generous to all of his employees. Once she said to me, "Now I realize that American capitalists are not evil slave drivers as the Communists say they are. They take on tremendous risk and work very hard to provide jobs for others." Of course, I am sure evil slave driving corporations exist , but there are countless American business owners who treat their employees extremely well and give their all to their businesses. So why are rich business owners typically portrayed as evil by the media and politicians?
As to China, it has changed quite a bit in the last couple decades. Capitalism is now everywhere and entrepreneurship is being embraced. One of my childhood neighbors became an architect and opened his own firm in Shanghai. My dad visited him last year and he said to my dad, "You have no idea what it is like to be a business owner until you become one. When you are the owner you are really working for your employees." This mirrors what my mother said about American business owners. He is respected as an architect and an entrepreneur. This is rather funny to me because the official party line in China is still that they are a Communist country, but having money is no longer looked down upon as the ultimate sin.
Ultimately, I think the idea that rich people are evil still comes down to the jealousy people harbor towards those who have more. Several people in China expressed to me that life was easier when everyone was poor and under a tight Communist rule. There was no "keeping up with the Joneses" because everyone had the bare necessities. They also did not have to fight for job opportunities because nearly everyone was assigned a job. That kind of tight state control made nearly everyone financially equal, but obviously there was no freedom. Life was easier because people did not have to make choices on their own volition. With free enterprise, the gap in wealth between the rich and poor is now widening in both China and America, and that inevitably increases the resentment towards the rich, but I think it is a good thing that people at least have the opportunity to become rich.
So in conclusion, I do not think we can assess a person's morality just by his or her networth, and I think there is no shame in being wealthy or poor. It is always dangerous to single out any one group of people as the culprits for all of our problems, because the last thing we want is a society where everyone is forced at gunpoint to be equal on every level. In that case we would lose our individuality, and with it we would lose a part of our humanity.
Were you ever taught that being rich is evil? Do you think rich people are evil? Feel free to comment!