Rich or Poor?

Written by larry on May 6th, 2012

Our trip provided the opportunity to be both, very often in the same place. Outside the resort we stayed at, Bimini definitely gave off a third-world vibe. House were small, poorly maintained, and the vehicle of choice was an aging golf cart. Inside our resort, and especially so at the one at the north end of the island, we were surrounded by luxury, as well as expensive shops offering exotic merchandise.

I can’t say I was particularly comfortable in either situation. I’m uneasy when surrounded by even mild poverty. In this case, it didn’t feel particularly unsafe, but even so, I was saddened by the situation, experiencing a feeling of powerlessness. Apart from spending some money, there was nothing I could do to help.

But I felt equally out of place at the north end, walking through a store offering simple shirts and jackets for hundreds of dollars and wristwatches for thousands. I sensed a kind of mutual irrelevance: I knew I would leave empty-handed and I suspect that the staff knew it as well.

So which is better, feeling wealthy or impoverished? I’m not sure, really. I’m glad that the hyper-wealthy exist, and I wish there were more of them. After all, they’re keeping the rest of us employed. As for those of lesser means, perhaps I’m keeping them employed – we rented a golf cart, bought some food, and the resort we stayed at employed a number of the locals.

Maybe the middle is best. It helps maintain perspective. I can aspire to the position of those in the higher tiers, and the presence of lower tiers keeps me motivated. But at the same time seeing them illustrates that, were things to go badly, the outcome would still be survivable. Were I at the bottom, I might become bitter. Were I at the top, I might start taking myself more seriously than I deserve.

I’m not sure which of those conditions is more serious.


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