Yesterday, we examined the pervasive Puritan work ethic and its relationship to our beliefs about money. There is no denying that it has in some ways has been very valuable. It has been a core value in this country that by hard work, we can progress. It is the source of the “Yankee ingenuity” that has made us a leader in world economic development. And with countless millions believing and striving for this goal, just like all magical intention and belief, it manifests.
However, the shadow side of this system of values is the assumption that wealth and success are available to all who strive for it. It is the dominant theme in the myth of the American Dream: that anyone can come to America and strike it rich.
Prosperity, so the story goes, is available to all, and not tied to race, ethnicity, class or caste. Success and wealth are the norm, not the exception, regardless of other factors, just as long as you are a go-getter.
Do you believe this is true?
For those who work extremely hard and make little progress, it creates an impossible bind. It sends the message that they are somehow not working hard enough. It assumes that we are all on a level playing field and that success is entirely based on hard work, courage, and cleverness.
That is certainly what our founding fathers intended and it is what we strive for this country to be. But the facts are that class, privilege, race, sex, education, and other factors still have enormous influence.
Ultimately, the denial of these influences adds to our illusions and wounds about money. We’re told it is there for the taking, yet it remains so elusive. It is only available to those who are worthy and so if you have it, you must be good. If you don’t, you must be bad.
In a New Age twist on this theme, now there is a message that if you don’t have enough, it is because of some karmic payback you are experiencing (translation: maybe you’re good now, but you must have been bad before).
Or perhaps you don’t have enough because you have not mastered the skills and secrets of creative visualization, or meditation, or cosmic clarity. (Don’t worry; for only $19.99 a month, subscribe to our three-year program of subliminal hypnosis prosperity CDs and soon wealth will be yours. Certainly it will be ours).
Today, I invite you to consider your basic beliefs about wealth, money, and their availability. Perhaps you have family members who were immigrants to America, in search of the opportunities here that are truly so very lacking in other parts of the world. How has their dream, and ability (or not) to realize that dream affected your own assumptions about money?
Do you see a class structure in America? Do you believe that opportunities are equally accessible to all? How has this played out in your own life and experience?
Tomorrow, we’ll consider these personal stories a little closer, so I invite you to please share yours here if you would like.