We kept waiting to see if it would be accepted for the Editorial section, but kind of gave up on it. Then some friends texted this morning and said "Great piece in the newspaper, so true!"
I thought it was really awesome that the PD waited until today to run it. So, naturally, I had to share it just like I did before. This time, it's not so much about our financial situation as it is about taking a moment to look around and realize how rich we really are.
This article can also be found here.
EVERSON: Holidays are a time for perspective
Last Modified: Wednesday, December 24, 2008 at 6:02 a.m.
''We're rich," I said innocently.
It was an honest appraisal from my point of view. And I recall the laughter that remark inspired. The reaction of my parents and their friends took me by surprise. At 5 years old, I didn't understand why they all thought I was being so silly. But they clearly disagreed with my assessment of our wealth.
Now that my son Patrick is 5 years old, I asked him if he thought we were rich.
"Yes, I think so, daddy," he told me.
"What makes you feel rich?" I followed.
"Well, we just are."
Only a 5-year-old can give such a succinct answer with such conviction. And you know what? He's right. Just as I was when I was 5 years old.
At nearly 37 years old, I now understand why my parents and their friends laughed at my proclamation. I realize the pressure of being an adult now that I could not then.
Each week, I struggle with bills. I find creative ways to stay on top of a mortgage and pay my taxes. The monetary demands never seem to decline.
I own a financial planning firm caught in the teeth of a serious financial crisis. As hard as I try to remain positive, sometimes it all makes me feel like I'm not rich at all. But aren't I really rich?
Wouldn't a boy in Pakistan crawling in the dirt, suffering from polio change spots with me instantly? I wonder what the word "rich" means to him?
Wouldn't a girl sold into sexual slavery in Cambodia take my place in a second? I'm sure she'd trade my stress and anxiety for her own daily horrors.
Wouldn't a Russian business owner constantly pressured by Mafia and government demands wish for the free enterprise system I enjoy?
Aren't I really wealthy, by comparison, to nearly 99.9 percent of the world?
I believe so.
And that is simply monetary. What about health? As Americans, our life expectancies are some of the longest in the world. Isn't health as important a commodity as money? Or nutrition? In Sonoma County, we live among the best farms in the world. A real cornucopia of organic, fresh, tasty and nutritious food abounds.
I wish my waistline could decline in size like my portfolio has during this financial crisis. But judging from my snug-fitting pants, the so-called crisis hasn't affected my ability to eat well. Can you imagine anyone living in Zimbabwe who wouldn't enjoy trading pantries with me?
What about our wealth of freedom? I can write what I please without worry at all of government or social censure. Starting a business was a piece of cake. Where else in the world is that a true statement? I'm free to travel, work, exercise, spend, save and do what I please in most every instance. Not so for nearly 75 percent of our world neighbors.
Wealth is just one area where many Americans have lost perspective. Consider our selfish interpretations of right and wrong. Or our heated and uncivil discussions about religion and politics. Americans have lost the attitude of gratitude that made us such a force in the past.
Take a moment and look around like a 5-year-old might. Everything around us is so amazing yet so few around us seem very happy about it. Wonder why?
If only folks could step back for a moment. Take an inventory of what we do have rather than what we do not have. And then compare our ledger to our friends around the globe. Isn't each and every one of us very wealthy? I believe so.
Matthew J. Everson is owner of MJ Everson Financial in Santa Rosa and lives in Santa Rosa.