I am fascinated with the idea of income inequality. So here is how I understand the idea. Income inequality refers to the extent to which income is distributed in an uneven manner among a population.
It is a measure of the national distribution of income - highlighting the gap between the rich and the poor.
Between 1979 and 2007, income of the top 1 percent of U.S. earners exploded by over 256 percent. Meanwhile, the bottom 90 percent of earners have seen little change in their average income, with just a 21 percent increase from 1979 to 2015. I grabbed these stats at www.inequality.org
Now here is where I begin feeling confused about how this works. I've heard that more equal distribution of wealth makes a better society. According to the experts, income equality must be resolved by redistributing the wealth of our highest earners.
What the heck?
I think that we should call this suggested redistribution of wealth what it is ... Covetousness.
Covetousness is defined as a resentful desire for another's advantages. It is also defined as an envious eagerness to possess something not earned.
Growing up I heard "Strive for the American Dream". Some define this as "the basic American promise," "that if you work hard, you can do well enough to raise a family, own a home, and put a little away for retirement."
But the American Dream is no longer good enough for many of us.
Some of "we the people" want that dream - plus two brand new luxury cars, the latest I-phone, a yacht and the biggest house on the golf course. Just like what we saw on reality TV.
Unsatisfied with what they have, it seems those in the lower, middle class or even upper middle class view people who have more with envy, or anger. But that envy or anger is not because of income inequality. Envy or happiness is a personal choice.
But what really perplexes me is that while blaming the 1 percent, we don't change the laws that hurt everyday consumers. We let ourselves get dragged by political parties into supporting corporate bailouts with our tax dollars. We don't stop predatory financial advisors and lenders.
I believe in personal responsibility. But I watch people avoid financial education. Only being taught how money (and contracts) work, helps people to avoid being cheated.
Mired in blame, millions of us refuse to decrease spending in our personal or national life. We don't push our government to serve our interests with fiscal health. As a nation we have broken every ceiling for debt, personally and collectively.
Demanding redistribution of wealth, keeps us from admitting that we chose our lifestyle. Our income is affected by education, financial literacy, jobs, geographical location and spending habits. Relationship choices can be helpful (or hurtful) to income as well. But all of those choices were made by us.
We have no business examining anyone else's income. Who cares what the 1 percent earn? If we are unhappy, the answer to being happier is certainly not taking money from someone else.
We can't resolve income inequality. People will earn different amounts.
The only answer to this kind of covetousness is gratitude. Gratitude is expressing appreciation for what one has - as opposed to a consumer-driven emphasis on what one wants.
As we enter the holiday season, one that honors many beliefs, religions and cultural traditions, we must cultivate gratitude. For many of us empowering, changing and improving our lives depends on it.
Gratitude brings satisfaction regardless of what we (or someone else) earn. Envy is toxic. To escape it, only gratitude can free our hearts and minds. Then we can become upwardly mobile not only in money, but in all areas of our lives.
Rachel Stovall is a longtime community advocate and organizer. Also a fundraising, media and marketing consultant, Rachel is most known for singing with her dance band Phat Daddy and the Phat Horn Doctors.