The View from a Drawbridge

The random musings of a bridgetender with entirely too much time on her hands.

Most people agree that the filthy rich ought to pay their fair share of taxes. And yet these despicable few still manage to cling to just enough political power to thwart our efforts. It’s obscene.

If you’re a billionaire, it’s not like you’re cuddling up to your money in front of a warm fire, with hot buttered rum. It’s remote from you. You don’t have a personal relationship with it. It’s usually never even converted into cash. It’s just numbers. And no matter how extravagant your lifestyle is, you clearly don’t need all that money to survive, or you wouldn’t be a billionaire for long. It would disappear like the puff of smoke it actually is.

So what makes you cling to it so incredibly tightly? Why is it never enough for you? Why can’t you ever stop being afraid?

The ultra rich don’t seem to realize that the spending of money can bring joy. (And yes, you might say that some of them are philanthropists, but they send out less than one percent of what they should be paying in taxes, and donate a lot less of their income than the average poor person does.

If I had a billion dollars sitting around gathering dust, I could end homelessness in my county, which includes Seattle. That would transform this city. And no one would go to bed hungry in this area ever again. That would feel a lot better than the anxiety brought on by greed.

In essence, humanity is a closed system. When your money leaves you, it doesn’t just disappear. It’s just somewhere else. Your goal, if you want a happy life, is to make sure that, when your money goes elsewhere, as much of it as possible is doing some good. Is it repairing a bridge so it doesn’t collapse? Is it paying the heating bill for a family? Is it helping clean up the planet? Is it allowing someone to be educated? Is it providing vaccines to those in need? Is it helping someone start a business to raise their family up from the pit of poverty?

Doing these things has a ripple effect. It reduces crime when you allow people to be less desperate. Educating children leads to adults who are more apt to do good themselves. Allowing people to be safe and healthy and clothed reduces the hate and greed and violence in the world. And that, in turn, impacts all of us.

Needless to say, I’m a firm believer in the flow of money. It’s meant to be liquid. If you pay people a living wage, they’re able to participate in the economy. When you stop grinding down the poor, their strength and abilities empower us all.

Yeah, yeah, I’m looking at the world through rose colored glasses. But I’ve seen all of this with my own eyes. It really matters.

I have been making microloans through Kiva.org for 15 years. I’ve so far loaned $2,425.00, and I haven’t even felt it. Yes, that is a painful amount of money to me, but I haven’t felt it because it’s been the same $25 dollars, over and over and over again.

Here’s how it works. I make a $25 dollar loan to someone in a financially depressed country. Maybe 10 other people join me. That’s not that much to any of us, but to the person it’s going to, it can mean the world. It might be more than they usually earn in a year. It can mean the difference between safe drinking water and constant illness. It can mean they can start a business that will sustain them and allow their kids to go to school so that someday they’ll do even better.

And here’s the thing. (Yes, there’s always a thing.) I’ve been lucky so far, and the money has always been paid back. I’ve lent that $25 dollars 92 times, and like water, it has flowed back to me like the tide, so I have been able to loan it out again, to someone else. That money isn’t an object that gathers dust. It continues to do good, over and over and over again, even though it’s only 25 dollars to me.

I have helped people in 70 different countries. And I mostly loan to women, because I feel that women are held back more, and deserve a break from this cruel world. Lifting women up makes me feel good.

So my 25 dollars has been to Fiji, and Vietnam, and Burkina Faso, and Guatemala. It’s been to Palestine and Thailand and Nigeria and Colombia. It’s seen Madagascar and Tongo and Egypt and Haiti. It has started businesses and built wells and been to markets and farms and it has raised roofs. It has done good, and has caused me no hardship. None at all.

If we all did this, the world would be a much better place. And the people that are most capable of doing these things are the very people who aren’t doing so. It makes me sad.

I’d like to invite you to join me and make a microloan through Kiva. You can find them here.

An attitude of gratitude is what you need to get along. Read my book! http://amzn.to/2mlPVh5

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