From Pablo Picasso’s perspective, “I’d like to live as a poor man with lots of money.” This may sound contradictory at first, but what he really means is that it is better for people to live an abstemious life, only buying basic necessities and using the rest of the money in a wiser way, like helping others in need, rather than purchasing superfluous items. In this way, “rich” and “poor” are actually compatible. Simple lifestyle outweighs extravagant lifestyle because over-consumption is a hindrance to both developments of environment and human beings, and using money to help others in need can help people obtain spiritual satisfaction.
First, luxuries and superfluous products are harmful to the environment as well as human development. Superfluous products exceed so many basic requirements of mankind that other people in need may not be able to acquire these resources. According to Wendell Berry, production, consumption and infinite avarice lead to the generation of waste. People buy things and throw away them repeatedly even when they can still be used. “Loads of plastic, aluminum, and glass containers” are used once and then abandoned soon. Many “appliances” have lifespans so short that they are replaced soon. Pollution of solid, liquid and toxic substances is also engendered drastically as a result of such consumption. If people continue to do so, everyone will become “a kind of human trash”. Would you like to live in a dirty world full of pitiful waste and human trash that is the consequence of your own behavior?
Wendell Berry sincerely pleads that “we must stop”(Berry 485). Superfluous products add burdens the environment. Furthermore, Henry David Thoreau suggests that people living a “primitive and frontier life” like he does. He asserts that “Most of the luxuries, and many of the so called comforts of life, are not only not indispensable, but positive hindrances to the elevation of mankind”(Thoreau 476). In other words, luxuries are dispensable. People who addict to comforts and indulge in luxuries will get used to physical comforts, contemplate less, and care less about mental aspiration, which only lead to spiritual decadence. As a result, all of mankind can hardly achieve higher meaningful accomplishments such as scientific research and literary compositions. Instead, abandoning a mindset of collecting as many possessions as possible will release people’s heart from the material world and allow them to pursue knowledge and spiritual aspirations. Therefore, attempting to minimize the block of human elevation, people would better live a frugal and even “poor” life, which only buy what we really need.
In contrast to Picasso’s opinion, one might think living as a rich man using little money is a better choice. However, a miser like this is lonely and poor in spirit, while a truly rich man is rich in his heart. Pablo Picasso himself was a well-known artist who was rich in his heart. His magnificent paintings enriched people’s souls instead of giving people merely physical comforts. Artworks always create something new that can enlighten people’s minds. In the contrary, although a miser owns plenty of money, he hardly spends it. His heart is empty, making him barren and shortsighted in spirit. However, spending money in a more meaningful way can be powerful, which can bring people spiritual satisfaction and soul elevation. Nowadays, unsolved problems widely exist in society. A cartoon created by Jeff
Parker fully illustrates “the great GAPsby society” depicting an ever-widening gap between a rich man and a poor worker (471). In our society, inequality is more and more serious and the wage difference between the rich and the poor is more and more dramatic. If the rich were to stop buying useless things or keeping the money alone, and instead use the money to help the poor, they can get spiritual satisfaction, but also improve the lives of others in society. For instance, Bill Gates has donated billions of dollars to his foundation, which aims to mitigate the inequality around the world and improve human health. As a result, the whole society can be improved, and people who receive help will be very grateful for the rich’s virtue. The donor will feel himself highly-valued by the society. This kind of mental fulfillment is happier and more long-lasting than merely material satisfaction which guilt and vanity will follow. Although Bill Gates is such a wealthy man, he still lives a humble and simple life. He does not care what the brands of his clothes are but only wants to wear comfortably. He lives like a “poor” man despite owning a lot of money. The donation not only influentially helps millions of people reduce inequality in the society but also let himself feel really happy and acquire spiritual satisfaction by extending his kindness.
In conclusion, living a simple life as a “poor” man even with lots of money is a better lifestyle than sumptuous lives because it can reduce the amount of wasted resources, promote human development, and give people a form of happiness that is lasting and not materialistic. Therefore, “poor” and “rich” are actually compatible. Being “poor” in lifestyle, people can simultaneously be “rich” in spirit.
Berry, Wendell. “Waste”. The Language of Composition, edited by Shea, Renee et al., 2nd edition, Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2013, pp.484-486.
Parker, Jeff. “The Great GAPsby Society”. The Language of Composition, edited by Shea, Renee et al., 2nd edition, Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2013, pp.471.
Picasso, Pablo. The Language of Composition, edited by Shea, Renee et al., 2nd edition, Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2013, pp.515.
Thoreau, Henry David. “from Economy”. The Language of Composition, edited by Shea, Renee et al., 2nd edition, Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2013, pp.474-477.