On the Power of Money

From The Rotarian:

hiresfaksimile_5180572-1“America,” said the exercise in our grammar book, “is the (rich) country in the world.” It was a lesson about the superlative, and the answer was, of course, “richest.” I was teaching English in Tanzania, and it was strange to read such things about my home.

“You are a rich man,” one of my students was fond of telling me, exasperated because I wouldn’t give him the books, pens, pencils, and notebooks he asked for. “But you are a rich man. America is a rich country.” He seemed to take a certain relish in using the word as he rolled the r, drew out the i, and let the ch trail off. “Reech …”
Deutsch-Ostafrika, Aruscha, Boma
This bothered me. It felt like an accusation. It made me resent something that was larger than myself, something that I had nothing to do with – something that wasn’t my fault.

Why did I get so angry? I spent a lot of time agonizing over that question. It seemed to come from the guilt that many of us feel when we cross a border into a poorer country. After a lifetime of being average, we find ourselves bizarrely privileged. Suddenly 500rupienwe become one of the global elite.

This affects our relationships with the people we meet…

Read the rest here.

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