wealth, poverty, and compassion

The rich are different from you and me: They are more selfish

“heartless folk might assume that people in the lower social classes will be more self-interested and less inclined to consider the welfare of others than upper-class individuals, who can afford a certain noblesse oblige. A recent study, however, challenges this idea. Experiments by Paul Piff and his colleagues at the University of California, Berkeley, reported this week in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, suggest precisely the opposite. It is the poor, not the rich, who are inclined to charity.

But we knew that already, didn’t we? We who live in the real world. The saying goes “I been poor, and i been rich” … it continues “and rich is better” … well sure, rich was fun, but it wasn’t better in any real sense. The more caring places i’ve lived have been the old Fillmore in SF, East Palo Alto, the not-so-well-off people in any country. When i lived once in a ritzy neighborhood in the US, people didn’t even say good morning to each other when all going out and getting in their nice cars to go to work.

So what does Buddhism say? Something about transformation i think. Something about needing suffering to learn compassion.

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