Recent wildfires have devastated Australia, and relief efforts are underway. Many people are raising funds in order to help those impacted by the fires. Among these are major corporations, CEO’s, and celebrities. Amazon.com CEO Jeff Bezos is among those contributing. Bezos announced he is contributing $1 million Australian dollars, which equates to about $690,000 US dollars.
But there is some “outrage” over the seemingly “small” amount that Jeff Bezos is donating. Bezos has an estimated to have a net worth of over $100 billion dollars, and a $1 million dollar donation is a mere 0.001% of his overall wealth. To put that in a context most of us can better understand, Bezos donation would be the equivalent of a person making $100,000 a year giving a meager $1 to relief efforts.
(Side note: It is reported that in 2018 Jeff Bezos gave about $2 billion dollars to charity.)
Eat The Rich!
In the 90’s the rock band Aerosmith sang about an attitude that many can identify with, and released the hit song, “Eat The Rich.” Ironic considering Steven Tyler and his friends are among the rich. But nonetheless, the band definitely tapped into the sorta angst many have in our culture about the wealthy.
Bezos and others are traditionally seen as men who do nothing but profit off the backs of others, crushing the working man under their evil capitalist boots. They live their lives free of care and want while gaming the system, dodging taxes, and doing little to nothing to alleviate the plight of the masses. The rich get richer, the poor get poorer, and the proletariat is left eating the crumbs from their capitalist masters tables.
Many believe we need a revolution.
You And I Are Jeff Bezos
I sympathize with these cries for revolution. It seems unfathomable that those with so much could overlook the suffering of others. It is within their power to do more, but the wealthy only seem to do less. Those who are in the lower income brackets tend to give about 5% of their income to others, while the uber wealthy give about 3%.
And while this is an interesting observation, I personally don’t find the gulf between the rich and the poor in their giving habits to be significantly different. At the end of the day, we are all human, and we are primarily concerned about our own self-interests. This is true whether we are rich or whether we are poor.
We all are carved out of the same lump of clay, and our default primal behaviors and mindsets are all the same. Like it or not, you and I are all Jeff Bezos. The primary difference between us is not our humanity, but the size of our bank accounts.
We Believe We Would Do Better
Of course, we all believe if we were in the same shoes Jeff Bezos is, we would all do better than he does.
In truth, such is merely a lie we tell ourselves. It’s nothing but good old fashioned self-righteousness at the end of the day. We all like to pretend we are made of better stuff, and love to proclaim our own goodness while throwing shade on others.
We always feel more generous with other people’s money.
But the more we get, the less we all give. That’s just a fact of life. At the end of the day, if we were in Jeff Bezos position, we would behave exactly like Jeff Bezos does. And the proof of that is Jeff Bezos himself. Jeff Bezos is simply every man.
It’s Time For A Revolution!
I believe a revolution is needed. But not in the way Karl Marx, Bernie Sanders, or Elizabeth Warren imagine. Their “Robin Hood” style visions of revolution involve nothing more than one set of greedy people forcefully taking from another set of greedy people.
There is nothing just or noble about any of that.
Rather, I believe we need an opening of our eyes and a changing of our hearts. A change that I believe that guys like John the Baptist and Jesus taught, where, “He who has two tunics should share with him who has none.” (Luke 3:11)
Most of us aren’t anywhere near that type of mindset, even as self-professing practicing Christians. We like our stuff and stockpile as much of it as we can.
To get to the place that we practiced what John the Baptist and Jesus taught would require nothing short of a spiritual awakening. It would involve men baptizing their self-interest in a love for others.
Such a revolution doesn’t involve government coercion, or a menu consisting of the flesh of the rich. It would involve a changing of our humanity, which last time I checked my Bible, is exactly what Jesus came to do.
Jesus wants to build one new humanity. But to get there, it requires us to no longer be Jeff Bezos. And I’m not sure any of us are willing to give up that.