19 April 2023
The Richest Person
on the Face of the Earth
is recurring debate and wonderment about who is the richest person in
the world. Forbes magazine has been keeping track of the wealthiest on
the planet and has been posting its Billionaires List since 1987. Names
like Elon Musk, Warren Buffett, Jeff Bezos, and Bill Gates along with
lesser notables appear on that list and in the media with respect to
who may be the Kings of Green Club.
think there may be a different way to look at who is the World’s
Wealthiest and determine who is the Richest Person on Earth. If you
agree with our premise, you may come to a surprising conclusion rather
than the Usual Suspect.
always fresh perspectives waiting for our eyes to consider. Let’s start
from a Wide Angle by focusing on incarnation in the 21st century AD.
What a gift it is to be born into this era of human history. Being born
in this time period, we have the potential to live many lifetimes
during one. Then, we have the potential to accomplish more in that one
lifespan. Short as it is.
societies living until recent generations could claim average lifespan
of only 40 years. Ours is nearing close to twice that. So from that
standpoint alone, most of us moderns get the equivalent of at least two
I remember meeting people on the South Dakota prairie who had not
traveled outside of the three counties which surrounded their abodes.
The same thing might be said about some people who live in big cities.
While the opportunities are available, many still only experience one
quite common but useful life: day to day and year to year as millions
have over the generations and centuries. Maybe that is simply their
karma. But, maybe there are other possibilities.
presently reside, the Hutterites still live simple lives as communal
farmers. As opposed to the Amish, they do use motorized vehicles. But
not computers – except for farm operations. Although cellphones are
making inroads into their unusual-to-modern-eyes existences. I suspect
few of the Amish and Hutterite people ever get to travel outside their
there is the other hand. A friend in her 80th year boastfully remarked
of having made 50 different moves in her lifetime. That surely is not a
record, but would be something nigh impossible in other time periods.
don’t have to be itinerants or vagabonds to experience the expanses of
this vast learning ground called Planet Earth. Modern transportation
and communications allow for contact with far stretches of the world
and its billions of human and trillions of animal and plant
inhabitants to be available for our study and experience.
wonders of books and libraries expanded people’s horizons when
Gutenberg developed his printing press in the 15th century. But now,
computers and digital libraries allow for geometrically greater
possibilities for study and learning. Billions of books are close at
hand to most all of us in one form or another.
of opportunities surround us – and lie within us – if we only take the
time to look for them in the midst of the vast number of distractions
of the times. The people we meet, the events in our lives, the places
we travel, the books we read can all bring us to recover the wonders of
our past existences, to right the wrongs we have done, and help build a
better world. Even to bring the kingdom of heaven to light in our very
as if it is all here right now within our reach, closer than our right
hands. If we are about the Work, we can be assured that when we return
next time there will be much more goodness to go around. Fewer wars,
less need for armies. More opportunities to give and share and create.
being born in the USA in the 21st Century, all of us experience many
kinds of wealth. Think of the simple amenities we take for granted each
day which have been unknown to royalty a few generations past and still
are in some parts of the world:
• potable water out of the tap – then hot and cold and iced on demand
• vast choices of foods – fresh, frozen, dried, canned
• sheltered comfort – a roof over one’s head
• warm or cool air at the press of a switch
• instant communication via phone or Zoom to most every part of the world
• ready transportation via car to take us here there and most anywhere
• entertainments by talents of all kind, again on demand
have yet to directly mention personal relationships. Think how many
people you and I can contact in our lives. How many friends, partners,
groups we can join. How many intimates we can attract – or vice versa.
consider for a moment – marriages. One lone marriage was the norm
– except for kings and caliphs – for millennia. Now in the West,
multiple marriages are probably more common than monogamy. That does
not even broach other possibilities romantic relationships in our time.
to mention in this vein a one-time neighbor who was reported to have
been married 13 times. She may have broken her own record by now.
Thirteen was the number told several years ago. Judy even surpassed the
male lead in Somerset Maugham’s humorous short story, The Round Dozen.
“But, what about the money, the financial part of riches,” you might ask,
“that set Musk, Buffett, Bezos, and Gates apart from the rest?”
We have two responses:
1) In the
West, most all of us have more money pass through our hands in a few
days than folks in past centuries did in months or years. While we live
with thousands of dollars, people in third world countries today manage
with pennies and pesos. We don’t have to be Warren Buffett to enjoy
money and consider ourselves rich.
we say, “The truest riches are family and friends, happiness and love,
nature and and beauty. They can not be measured or counted or
collected.” But, these are the intangibles which we can take with us
here there and everywhere – even when we part the physical plane.
Teresa spoke decades ago of the material deprivation in the East and
spiritual deprivation in the West. All we need really do is to look
around at the wonders of nature, the gifts of life, and the abundance
of creation to sense how rich we are even in difficult times and
reminded of the words of baseball great, Lou Gehrig. Mr. Gehrig played
seventeen years at first base for the New York Yankees. He was known as
one of baseball’s most durable players and finest hitters. Yet, the
Iron Horse was diagnosed at age 36 with a disease which took his life
in two years.
Nonetheless, Lou recognized how fortunate he was and had been as he gave his farewell address to fans at Yankee Stadium:
past two weeks you have been reading about the bad break [his illness]
I got. Yet today I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the
How lucky we are! How rich we are! Just like Lou Gehrig! Maybe more so!
Join me in shouting, “I consider myself the richest person on the face of the earth.”
Comments always welcome at
theportableschool at gmail dot com.